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  1. Exter

    Exter New Member

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    Amateur writer here, can't pick a start for the book

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Exter, May 5, 2017.

    I recently developed an interest in writing, I have no past experience and struggling to choose the way to start my story.
    It's going to be a sort of Zombie-Apocalypse, with not just regular 'zombies' but weird mutated versions of different types. Now I know how my story will go and I have written the characters and the different types of 'mutants' with their abilities. But what I can't decide is a start for the story.
    Easiest start would have been character waking up in hospital (from a coma or whatever) and world gone to hell. But it's done enough times already.
    I want to pick a way similar to the above, where the MC is somehow "away" from the mainstream world and world goes to hell. Because in this manner he can slowly learn from different characters of their knowledge about different mutants. And this type of start would just go along more smoothly with how I've planned the rest of story.
    So I have come up with 3 ways in which I could start it but I feel like all of them are not really good and I can't pick just one or think of another one. (By the way it's in first person )

    (Also in all these starts, people have already heard about some sort of virus or parasite that had spread in some cities but no one expected it to spread everywhere so rapidly not even the media and government.)

    First idea of start - MC is away on a cruise and heading back to shore after 3-4 days on the sea. When the ship returns to land, world is already gone to hell.

    Second idea - MC committed a crime ( not a very rough one) and he is in prison for a month or two. While he is in there world goes to hell and he gets out and learns about details from other survivors.

    Third idea - MC is on a first date and everyone is relaxed on dates and stuff, because they didn't know how fast the virus had reached their city and while they are on the date they both see their first 'zombie' and try to escape and his date (the girl) is devoured while MC escapes and meets the character he is first supposed to meet in the story. (His date was just an excuse to start the story ... )

    I don't particularly like the third one because MC had witnessed it starting so he has to slowly learn about all the details of the mutant zombies himself. But then again I don't feel like any of those 3 starts are strong enough, so would appreciate some help, either an idea on how to start or a suggestion or just an advice to get me starting the book.
     
  2. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    The early stages of any crisis are confused and chaotic even if you're there to see it, especially if you aren't in a high level position with access to tons of information. I don't think you need to separate your main character from the beginning.

    The first two scenarios ring a bit hollow to me. With the huge amount of communication we have today, I'm doubtful people on a cruise ship wouldn't have picked up something about society collapsing before coming back to land. And while this will vary depending on setting, a fair number of low security American prisons have access to TV.

    I do agree that the third scenario is a little weak, though for a different reason. If you have a bunch of mutant types, the MC need only encounter one on the date, and can learn about others from various survivors before coming face to face with them. The issue I see with the date beginning is that it could take a while to build up. Especially if you want the audience to feel something about the date's death.

    If you want to stick with the "removed from society" introduction, you could have the MC have gone through some sort of hermit period, for whatever reason, and have him emerge from it to find the world in shambles.
     
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  3. cherrya

    cherrya Active Member

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    Think about what kind of 'feel' you want your story to give. It's hard to say "Yes, you should go for that" because you know your story better than us. What do you want to say? Do you want it to be a story about hope? About despair, chaos? Do you want this to be a bit ironic? Figure that out first, and the rest should be easier.
     
  4. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

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    This might be your best option. He could've gone on a long summer hike in a forest somewhere and decided not to bring technology (or the technology doesn't work where he went). Something like that might work. I agree the ideas you present are pretty weak. Besides having access to radio/TV, it's highly unlikely that anyone would know much more than the MC after only three days, and in a prison, he'd have heard of it from the guards or starved because they weren't able to feed him.
     
  5. Skye Walker

    Skye Walker Banned

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    How old is your character? I think that could be important, too. A twenty-five-year-old is less likely to go through a "hermit period" than someone, say, in their forties or fifties.
     
  6. Minty Talons

    Minty Talons Member

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    Well 1 and 2 both have your main character starting the story surrounded by a whole bunch of people and functioning technology. 3 doesn't really do the job. If I got this right what you're looking for is to have him emerge into an already ruined zombie-scape.

    How about returning from a corporate retreat. Big business often sends it's employees to do team building exercises in some remote place.
    Or returning from a meditation retreat (where all tech is usually banned)
    Returning from a hiking holiday in the mountains/forest that he goes on every year as a tradition. So even though he heard about the beginning of the outbreak he still feels compelled to go into the mountains/forest.
     
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  7. Teresa Mendes

    Teresa Mendes Member

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    I agree with ideas of hiking and camping for a few days. How about your protagonist living in a farm in a rural area or in the mountains? He could be against technology and paranoid with its use. Or he could have his personal boat and go fishing for a few days without any device, to fully enjoy himself (similar to hiking and camping).

    Or he could have been kidnapped and kept in a basement and when he frees himself he finds a whole new kind of hell. Or maybe he has mental problems and hallucinations and is not sure if it's a product of his mind or reality.

    Just some ideas =) If you could give us more details on what you want to write maybe we could give ideas that are closer to what you need.
     
  8. malaupp

    malaupp Active Member

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    Speaking on the genre as a whole, I would love to see the world actually going to hell as the virus spreads. You can tell it in quick scenes. First hearing about it on the news, then seeing footage of the zombies from different places, before it finally shows up in his hometown. But if you do want to do the whole "oh shit, this happened" thing, there are a few options.

    Going on what the others have to say, you have to pick something that would remove him from technology for a short period of time. Something like a hike or a retreat would work if the virus spread very quickly (i.e. the world went to hell in under a week).

    For a more slow-working virus, I would go for something like a different lifestyle entirely with a lack of technology. For instance, I would love to see how an Amish person takes on a zombie apocalypse. Or he grew up with super hippie Y2K paranoid parents that disallowed technology. Or he lived on some other sort of commune. Although this will have an effect on who he is as a character.
     
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  9. OGIS

    OGIS New Member

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    First thought is your start should include a "kicker" sentence. There's an Internet joke going around about how adding "And then the murders began." directly after the first sentence can pump up most story starts. It works. Maybe something like that, with an original twist? Just a thought.

    Second, have you ever read Earth Abides by George R. Stewart? Here's a synopsis: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Abides. The MC gets bitten by a rattlesnake while out hiking, and is laid up, delirious, by himself, in a remote cabin, so he misses the plague of mutated measles that sweeps the Earth, killing 99% of the human race. There is no communication because the MC is delirious. You might like to borrow heavily from this basic idea.
     
  10. dmp

    dmp New Member

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    Maybe he missed it while waiting in line at the DMV? :)

    Illness/Coma saved him = The Walking Dead and Rick - be careful with that.

    out to sea and came back = Sorta like "The Last Ship" TV show. Go gently with that.

    Maybe he and his wife were on their honeymoon? Hrm - Was going to suggest he was having an affair but that is another TV sub plot.
     
  11. Bronson

    Bronson Member

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    Any work, in my opinion, depending on how fast you want the story to move along. The date one seems a little on the fast side, but if the person the MC is dating survives, there's room for discovery between the characters.

    I always liked the idea ofvthr hermit that removed himself from the world he couldn't get along in (modern day), but then finds his calling in the chaos that follows.
     
  12. Lemie

    Lemie Contributor Contributor

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    I'd second that kidnapping idea!
    It would put him right into action and while it could be played really seriously I actually laughed at the idea. I mean, someone is having the shittiest week-end ever, and now it's probably going to be his last! :rofl:

    The last idea is interesting, but probably hard unless the story is going to be about his struggle with hallucinations VS real horror that is going on. It's not really a minor side plot to me.
     
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  13. Siena

    Siena Senior Member

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    I like the third idea best.
     
  14. Teresa Mendes

    Teresa Mendes Member

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    Haha that's the direction I was thinking of! It's kinda funny in a dark way. And I agree, the last idea would have to be a main issue of the story and not just a minor subplot.
     
    Lemie likes this.
  15. OJB

    OJB A Mean Old Man Contributor

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    I think of my ending when I design my opening (since they need to mirror each other.)

    My current WIP:

    Opening: A woman claims her disfigured face makes her unkissable.
    Closing: She and the Love-interest kiss.

    I'll let you fill in the details for your story, but that is how I view it.
     
  16. Walking Dog

    Walking Dog Active Member

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    One solution is to write in a different era. In the past, groups of people were isolated. News of an apocalypse comes by a group of people being chased by zombies. Another possibility is a future setting, where a space craft on final approach to our Solar System discovers there isn't any communications coming from Earth. Or, maybe the whole zombie thing happens in space. A space colony has gone silent, and your MC is sent to investigate. Chaos ensues upon landing.
     
  17. Dr.Meow

    Dr.Meow Contributor Contributor

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    Two things I'd like to say about zombie stories in general. One is that they don't have to be all consuming, world-ending scenarios. It doesn't have to be armageddon. I would like to see one that half of civilization, or more, taking up refuge and using intelligence to stay alive, while everyone that was caught in the epidemic is roaming about as the zombies. It's like in every zombie story, civilization suddenly goes from dumb to dumber, and everyone except a few people are suddenly zombies. I highly doubt in a real case scenario that it would turn out like that. Some people are stupid, yes, but it's like suddenly in these stories everyone is dumb as bricks, no one is smart enough to save themselves, and it's like there's never been a zombie movie or book ever in this universe... I think people are subconsciously ready for the zombie apocalypse, and we probably wouldn't succumb so easily.

    Secondly, there's never a cure, except in the case of a few stories. We need more zombie stories that have a happy ending, because honestly it's getting boring with all of them being hopeless. Have a cure, or some way to have all the zombies spread a new virus among themselves that kills them all and stops the contagion from infecting humans anymore.

    All that being said, for a good start to such a story, I think it would be refreshing to see it from the perspective of medical experts and the government viewpoint. We know how it looks when regular people are dealing with it, but how would it be if the professionals were trying to deal with it? We never see that side. You can have your regular people too, but showing those different views would be awesome. You don't have to have your story take place after the infection, have it start before, and show how it happened, show the mistakes that caused it, and show who is responsible. That would be even more interesting. I've given zombie stories a lot of thought obviously...lol
     
  18. Micheal

    Micheal New Member

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    Reading through this thread i was thinking something alone those lines, set it slightly in the future, and the main character is a astronaught.
    He is due to come back from the international space Station. his capsule say, is a pre programmed flight path.. so no central command centre is needed.
    He lands and finds the world has gone to hell, etc..

    Or like walking dog, stated futuristic setting on another planet, starbase or out post. where a virus has mutated and leaked out.

    One idea, the character is at home, he has a migrane, takes pain killers but ends up taking sleeping tablets instead. and wakes up 24 hours or even 48 hours later.
    something just come to mind, the character is at home, he heads into the basement to do something, he ends up slipping down the steps and knocking him self out, comes too the next day to find the world has he knew it has gone.

    I would not stop the lack of a good start to stop writing the book though.. the start is something you can come back to later.. writing the rest of the book you may even come up with a unique way of starting the book, when you are not thinking of it
     

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