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Starting a story

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Author Topic: Starting a story  (Read 718 times)
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« on: July 30, 2007, 05:01:45 pm »

It depends on what you mean by "starting" a story. The majority of the replies have took that as starting to come up with a story, which involves getting an idea of your characters, setting, plotline and so forth.  However, you can also take "starting" a story as the process of beginning to write it: to convert all those ideas into an actual piece of writing. Obviously the two are different things.

If we're talking about the first one, then I've no idea what's the "best" place to start thinking of a story. You could start with a great character, a great premise, simply an involving world for something to happen in... I'm not sure it really matters. All you really have to do is have something that sparks off a desire to flesh out a story. Once you've got that, you can do it one of two ways. Some people like  an incredibly detailed level of planning before they actually sit down and write: coming up with backstories and history and endless details. Others just get a general picture in their heads and get down to writing. I reckon a middle ground is probably the best.

If you're talking about the second: actually turning your mental picture into actual words, I can only tell you what I like to do. In order to get a hook into the story written, from which you can build on, I choose a starting point: a scene. This opening scene is the most self-indulent bit of writing in the book: it's the most densely written, unworkmanlike and literary bit of the whole thing. Nothing's happened yet so you aren't slowing the story down with your description: you can just start on a single frozen moment of time and rejoice in it. Then you can snap out of it and get on with telling the story. It's almost a literary overture, and it just gives you something to work off. The only danger is over-cooking it.

Of course, some people like to jump straight into the action with nary any fanfare at all. My creative writing tutor would have you believe the only way to start a story is en media res- slap the reader in the face with a brutally effective opening line and jump into the thick of it. Such vagaries as setting the scene and explaining what the hell is happening can come later. I don't particularly go with that line of thought. It strikes me as overly gimmicky, and if your reader needs such an intro to be persuaded to keep reading, they probably won't have the attention span to deal with any relatively complex plotting or ideas you want to put in.
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