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Starting a Piece

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Arcbound Phyrexian, Dec 15, 2011.

  1. I've found that with all of the various ideas I've had for stories, I have little trouble writing a fantastic bit that would (should) be later inserted into the middle of a piece, but can never write beginnings. Every time I try to write the first part of anything, even if all the rest of it is already done, I just can't do it. I either end up with lines that either sound boring, cliché, and/or awkward, or sit there staring at a blank screen for what seems forever before "checking a forum quick" and wasting the rest of the day away. How do you go about penning the opening lines? Do you have a certain method you use? Is there a number of ways that are usually used? Do certain methods work better for certain settings, styles, or moods?
  2. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

    Start the story five pages earlier than you have been. Then discard those five pages. ;)

    Who knows? It might work.…

    Seriously (though, come to think of it, that actually might work…): I'd suggest the same thing I tell students about essay writing: do that part last. By then, you should have some fairly good idea of what you need to have right up front to launch the thing.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  3. I'm going to suggest that maybe you think it sounds cliché because the beginning of a story is introductory by nature. Something has to begin the story, and yes, it's going to be relatively infodumpy compared to stuff in the middle. You can't rely on character traits that have been built up over the course of the last several thousand words; you're creating them from scratch. Can't be helped.

    I think if you did a blind test, taking a chunk from the beginning and a chunk from the middle, and gave each of them to someone with no context, you'd probably find that people can't accurately guess which is which. If that's the case, then it's a matter of your own (mis-)perception rather than you actually producing "boring, cliché, and/or awkward" prose.
  4. Otherlands

    Otherlands Acolyte

    You mean that wasn't serious!! :)
    I start all my work this way. If I didn't I would find the very start of my work stilted and struggling to find it's pace. By starting a few pages prior, I come in with my characters actually in the middle of something
  5. Shadoe

    Shadoe Sage

    If you're having problems with the opening, it's probably because nothing is happening at the beginning and even you don't want to read about it. If that's the case, don't bother writing about it. Start the story where the story starts, not before the story starts. Start with the action, fill in the background as required.

    I used to have a hard time with beginnings as well. Then, one day, I had a story almost finished but couldn't think of a really good opening. So I set it aside - for about six months. When I opened it, the story was fresh and new, and I realized it didn't need an opening.
  6. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

    I have a lot of trouble with beginnings as well. Of the stories I write, my favorite ones are the ones where the opening line just sort of popped into my head without any trouble. Makes everything so much easier, because I'm something of a perfectionist when I write - I have putting anything onto the page unless I think it's at least 'pretty good.' The net result of these two things is, of course, that I didn't use to get anything done.

    I defeated both tendencies (to a certain extent). The "Getting started" problem I overcame by deciding to just start. The beginning sentence doesn't have to be great. I'm going to change it anyways, most likely. Once I've written the story I usually examine the beginning very, very thoroughly, because of all the things that might have changed about the story since I started it. Narrator's voice, plot points, etc.

    To sum up, and sort of paraphrase what Ravana said, don't worry about the beginning until the end.
  7. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

    See, I thought that would work. :D

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