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How to Begin a Story?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Hypervorean, Oct 26, 2012.

  1. Hypervorean

    Hypervorean Scribe

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    Normally when I write a story the beginning just comes to me all on its own. I usually find that to be the easiest part, in fact. But then I started editing this short story I wrote in the spring; I have been rewriting the beginning over and over again over the last couple of days, but I just can't seem to become satisfied with it.

    Does anyone else have these kinds of troubles? Do you have any tips or tricks as to how best to go about it?

    (now, I did also make a thread about endings, so this seemed rather fitting ;))
     
  2. Sinitar

    Sinitar Minstrel

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    Most people would recommend taking a break from your current work once you finish the first draft and start working on another. When you come back to it, things will look different. At the moment, I think you are overthinking the editing process. Since everything is fresh in your mind, you simply can't settle on one idea because a better one prods at your brain. I could be wrong though...
     
  3. Hypervorean

    Hypervorean Scribe

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    I have been letting it rest completely since the spring where I finished it.. It is not because I keep getting better ideas, it is more a lack of any great ideas at all.. Maybe I am getting bit too frustrated with it though.
     
  4. Whitefur

    Whitefur Dreamer

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    I recommend switching between different settings until you find the right one. Is your character sitting in a pub or is patrolling the walls of his fortress? Is he alone? If not, who can engage in a conversation with him?

    Think small, then add the bigger details.
     
  5. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    I would recommend simply beginning the story at the earliest logical point... perhaps where the action begins... you can always add a different beginning once you think of one. :)
     
  6. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    I'm at a similiar point with the first chapter of the 'Labyrinth' rewrite.

    In the rough draft, the current opening didn't exist, but as the story progressed, it became clear I needed to start the tale earlier.

    Three or four drafts before I dropped a character.

    Three or four more before I came up with a draft I deemed passable...and that the editing program agreed with.

    Three days trying to come up with a pair of short, crucial paragraphs to fix a hole in one of those subsequent drafts.

    Let it sit four or five times between these drafts (and worked on challenge stories and notes for my world).

    Looked at it again after a few more minor tweaks...and started another rewrite because there was too much telling, not enough showing, and too little...activity. I have hopes of finishing the current draft of chapter one this weekend.

    The rest of it, though, hasn't been too bad. I have to change a few things because of the chapter one rewrite, but thats minor.
     
  7. yachtcaptcolby

    yachtcaptcolby Minstrel

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    I read a piece of advice once about making the very first sentence of a story tell the reader exactly what said story is about. This is definitely a non-standard way of doing things, but it's worked for me, and it's something I've been trying to incorporate into all of my prose. It sets me off on the right foot and keeps me focused on the overarching theme of whatever it is I'm working on. It might be worth trying if you're stuck on how to start your work.
     
  8. Helen

    Helen Inkling

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    Yes.

    Just move onto the next scene. Come back to the start later.

    I mean, if you've done umpteen inciting incidents and aren't satisfied, just get on with the Ordinary World and beyond and the beginning will clear itself up.
     
  9. MadMadys

    MadMadys Troubadour

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    Beginnings are my favorite thing to write, I would say. I've always had a knack for doing good ones and it really comes from understanding where to put your first step.

    Many will tell you to "start where the story starts" but I find that to be rather boring. I think you should start about 10 minutes after the story starts. It's like waking up one day and wandering outside. First thing you see is hundreds of people running down the road, in a state of utter panic. You have no idea what is going on but, having a natural sense of self preservation, you start running with everyone else. Probably trying to ask someone what is going on at which point they say they don't know, they just saw a bunch of other people running so they joined in.

    When a story picks up once things have already started to happen then the story doesn't need to warm them into a story. A bit like jumping into the deep end rather than wading from the kiddie pool. It doesn't always work but, at the very least, you should give it a try to see how it works for your story. Can't hurt!
     
  10. ChantyLace

    ChantyLace Dreamer

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    Maybe you are just over thinking it! If you were reading the story, rather than writing it, what would make most sense as a starting point. We are hardest on ourselves. Perhaps your original beginning was close to what you wanted to end with, and since you have strayed so far from it, you have no idea where you are going.

    I would advice critiquing what you are writing. Hopefully you save your drafts, and go to the beginning, the first thing you wrote. What do you NOT like about it. What do you LIKE about it. If you can pinpoint these things then you can edit more efficiently. To further that, figure out WHY you don't like parts, and why you like parts. If you can pinpoint the exact issue, it's easier to solve. And if you can figure out why you like parts you might be able to translate that into correcting the bad components.

    Let us know how your editing goes!
     
  11. Leif Notae

    Leif Notae Sage

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    Simple. How did your story end? When you think about the ending, you are rooting around in it for the beginning.

    Tying the loop from ending to beginning is the easiest way to solve this problem, and it will give your readers some satisfaction.

    Otherwise, it is possible your story starts later than you think and you need to cut your beginning until it resonates.
     
  12. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

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    The first two books, I just started at a point, they both were very boring starts. But when I edited I moved the start to a point later on when it got exciting. Where you start the rough draft doesn't matter. Writing the stuff before can help you establish(for yourself) what lead up to the start.

    The third I built the start and then worked out what led up to the start. The mc needed to see the cave that wasn't noticable any other time, so it was nighttime with a fire in the cave. It needed to be that almost no one else was around, so it was pouring down rain, the mc needed to be desperate enough to go into the cave, so she is being chased and exhausted, so she is running in the rain in a formerly eligant ball gown.

    Just take what you know and expand on it, until you establish the begining or just start someplace and work until you find your begining. Thats how I have done it.
     
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