Starting Your Novel
Anonymous asked fuckyourwritinghabits:
I have a bad habit of starting off all of my novels with the main character having just woken up and getting ready for her day. (i’m sorry if this question has been asked before but) what are some more interesting ways to start a book without it being to complicated for the reader to dive into?
There are a very theories on how and where you should start your novel, but the main thing to focus on is to get it started and roll on from there. A lot of people have trouble with beginnings, so don’t feel like you’re out there alone! Here are a few ideas:
- Figure out the inciting event. There’s going to be one point that kicks off your plot. If you know what that point is, it’s helpful to put that as a place marker for all that should happen before and after. Sometimes novels start at the inciting event, but many times they don’t.
- List what the reader needs to know before the inciting event. Obviously there may be back story you need to layout first, or introducing the character.That’s the stuff you’ll want to include first, or at least leave clues about before the book gets moving.
- Research. Pick your five favorite books, and note where they start. What about those beginnings makes you want to read on? Where in the story do they start?
- Move it forward. For a first draft, your goal is to get the story down. Don’t get hung up over the start if it means that stalls your writing. When you want to move beyond that, those, see if there’s a point in your story where you can move the beginning forward. Where does the story actually pick up? What is the most important thing you can pick out?
- Don’t worry about losing your reader. Leaving the reader wondering is a perfect way to start a story - they’ll want to keep reading to find answers. You can nail down your first paragraph, your first line, to get the reader thinking ‘why is this happening?’ It’s not going to be perfect to start with, and it doesn’t have to be, but it’s good to keep in mind.
Good luck, anon!
Where to Start Your Story
The openings of stories, or even chapters, can be very problematic. It’s important to open with something that will grab the attention of your readers and make them want to read more.
The rule when writing any scene is this: Get in as late as possible, and get out as early as possible.
What’s the important action or moment in your scene? Begin when that moment begins; you don’t need to describe people arriving or greeting one another. Jump in with the action straight away. Likewise, you don’t need to write about people saying goodbye and leaving. Once the important moment ends, it’s time to move on again.
When you’re editing your story, you may find that you can dump the first two paragraphs you wrote, or even the first two chapters.
Throw your readers right into the action; they want to feel like they’re a part of the excitement, they want to be carried along with it. Don’t make them sit through nothing happening; they’re unlikely to still be there when the action finally does start.
Beginnings and First Sentences
If I read one more story that starts with someone waking up, a description of the light through the trees, or a person just sitting there and musing, I’m gonna gouge my eyeballs out with a rusty spoon.
There, that was a pretty good first sentence for this post, right? Here are some tips to have up your sleeves as you begin your next story, so that people will want to read beyond the first couple of lines:
Beginnings - 1.4 “First Birth"
And this is the last one for this chapter. The story of Daphnes’ birth! - Zelda
A very happy moment. :) -Link
“Nourish beginnings, let us nourish beginnings. Not all things are blest, but the seeds of all things are blest. The blessing is in the seed.”—Muriel Rukeyser, from “Elegy in Joy”
“Too much forward thinking - concentrating solely on how something will turn out - disengages us from the process necessary to complete a task. If you are waiting for perfect conditions to exist before beginning a process, you may never get started at all. Let go of the idea of success or failure, and revel in the act of doing. ”—Mary Carlomagno
I’m no good at beginnings,
at the bits where you and I
are not an us, not yet anyway.
So can we start somewhere
in the very centre, the middle?
Can you pretend to care and
already know all the bad things?
As awful as I am with beginnings
I am even worse with endings.
So let us just stay in the middle,
in the lovely, gentle middle…