Getting Started

Saturday, June 22, 2013

via pinterest
One of the hardest parts of writing (but of anything really) is the getting started. Or, to put it in childlike terms, where? It's impossible to know at the beginning of your story where it is going to take you, what depth it will have, how your characters will change. Many times, we don't even know who they are yet.
At least, in my case, I never do.

In all honesty, how do you know a character until you've written their story? No amount of detailed, deliberate, questions will get you where plain old fashioned writing will. But writing isn't plain and old fashioned, so you're really getting the better bargain anyway. At least that's what they told me when I sat down to write a book with no knowledge of my cast.

In lieu of all this, I've compiled a list of tips. Tips on getting started--that is, the catalyst of writing that is ever-so-difficult to attain.

1. Don't start at the beginning. This is what I did with Psithurism. I started at one of the key scenes, the scene in which the main action began (or what was the main point of action in the beginning). You'll find that once you have the action going, you'll want to scoot back a bit and explain why. Inching along at this pace, I found myself with the beginning.

2. Remember that however you start now is probably not going to be the real beginning when you're done with the book, so just get it out there for goodness' sake and move on. I've come to the realization that my first words are always going to be the worst, but I can't get to the better ones until I have those out on paper.

3. Start somewhere else (this dovetails with number one). I've found that starting with a flashback/flash forward can help you get your footing a bit better.

4. Start by telling your main character's backstory, until you get present time. What does he/she do next? Carry it from there.

5. Find one place in your book's world that maybe has something to do with the plot, and start describing it. Tell every ridiculous detail until you're quite bored with the place and you feel as though you know it inside out and your readers will probably hate you. But you can cut that down to size later, now's the time for writing. Say you find something small in that room, comparable to a little piece of string that leads to countless other things. Grab hold of it. Don't tug too hard - it's small, and breakable. But if you hold patiently, waiting for it to grow in strength, you'll eventually find yourself with what comes next. And that's when you grab on tight, because man alive, it's going to run faster than you want! And then you have your story.

How do you start a story?


  1. this is great!! i agree that starting a story is the hardest part for me... i usually start by just writing down every idea i have in my head, even if it's in no order or a big mess. it always helps me get started :)
    you have a lovely blog by the way xoxo
    - Gabi

  2. There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they'll take you. - Beatrix Potter

    I agree - your blog is lovely.
    Annie-Jo xo


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