Thursday, May 5, 2011

How do you start a book?

Today’s blog is because earlier today a friend sent me a text that said “I know this is out of the blue… but how do you know where to start a book your writing?” Now I am far from an expert in the matter but I was touched that this friend was seeking out my advice. And while I tried to give her good advice, you can really only say so much over text so I began to write this to send to her, and then decided it would make a good blog post as well. Because isn’t that a question we all have “Where the hell to I start to tell this story?”

Now I don’t want to talk about “tricks” for the first chapter. You know what I mean; amazing first sentences, starting with a BANG, keeping the reader interested, and posing questions. Those are all thing a first chapter needs. But what I really want to talk about is the fact that you have this idea for this awesome story, with awesome characters but beginning are hard and you have no idea how to start the story. Where and how do you introduce your story?

For me the start of my story began very organically. I was driving and I just saw the start of it and I literally pulled over to the nearest place with paper (boyfriends work) stole some paper and locked myself away and just scribbled the idea down. It wasn’t until a little later after a had the first chapter hanging around for a while that I began to think about how and why this was the start of my book and began to edit it so it fit a little better. But at the end of the day it was the same, just with a little more context.

Now I know that not everyone has an experience like this, so here are a few questions I think you can ask yourself to find the beginning of your story.

Who is telling your story? I think this is an important question because it solidifies your POV right away but also if you know who is telling your story then you know what is important to them. And if you know what is important to them then you can figure out at what point of the characters journey they would think is the start of the story.

How do you want to introduce your MC?  I mean first impressions are everything, so I think it is a good idea to think about the first impression of your MC. After all is they are an awesome kick ass fighter it would seem fitting to introduce them in a middle of a fight. That way there are no questions about your characters bad-assness. Alternatively juxtaposition is always fun. But untimely how we meet your MC will always be how they are thought of, at least a little bit, so it should reflect their character strongly.

Where does your story start? Now this question seems redundant but I think it is important to ask before you start. Did the story start before the first pages or does it need some lead up before their story starts? Do you want to throw your reader into the middle and then sort it out from there or do you want them to go on the complete journey with your characters?

Ultimately I believe that if you have an idea you should put it down on paper. If it is good then wonderful! And if it is not so good at least you learned what does not work and you can try another avenue until you find something that feels right.

How did you choose where to start your story?


  1. Well, I know this won't help your friend, but...I tend to start my books in all the wrong places. LOL. I pretty much always have to change the beginning at some point after writing the first draft...

  2. She sent me that text too.
    We told her a lot of the same things ^_^

  3. This is a question I am still struggling with. But the good thing is I don't really have to know when it starts until I'm finished. I think it's best to just write down everything that's in your head at the beginning of the story. You can easily chop off the unnecessary bits later.

  4. My beginnings just come to me as well. I like to start in the middle of things, but not so much so that I have to go back and catch the reader up. So basically I start where the story really starts to get interesting, and leave the boring parts where they belong :)