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Starting a story

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Loki
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« on: May 10, 2007, 11:16:32 pm »

How do you prefer to start a story? Any tips would be great  Grin
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« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2007, 11:36:34 pm »

I start by writing words and making sentences with them.

Really, I think of a setting and a theme, then make characters to apply to the setting.

EDIT: Almost forgot to welcome you to the site.  Glad you join!  How did you stumble across the site?
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« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2007, 01:14:11 am »

I, however, say make characters, flesh them out, then come up with a series of events to change their characters into something else.

So...yeah. Different from Tsuki's.

Ciat,
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« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2007, 12:48:51 pm »

Start with what you can write best. If you’re good at making characters then start with them. If you’re better at creating worlds then do that. Personally I just start and see where it goes (or not)
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« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2007, 04:07:57 pm »

Normally I start with the characters and occasionally a place then I see where they go. Occasionally I write in another way, starting with a situation, but normally only in response to a challenge.
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« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2007, 04:52:02 pm »

I usually try to set the scene but always end up rushing through. The first sentence is always hardest part of the book and the part I have most problems on.

Thanks for the welcome, I just stumbled on the site - I'm impressed with the creativity theres some good stuff here!
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« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2007, 10:07:57 am »

Hope I'm not committing threadomancy Roll Eyes

I usually start with just an idea or random thing. Like for SaC, it was the Halo games. There was jus tthis abstract badness about the military side of it, which I wanted to fix. So I started with quite a militaristic storyline, and then gradually fixed it up. Now, after reading The Dogs of War, I've rehashed it again to a sort of Tom Clancy in Space idea.
The storyline always comes first for me, then I try to pick characters that can best tell that story.
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« Reply #7 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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« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2007, 08:25:23 pm »

That's a point I never thought of, the destinction between starting a story and starting a story.

For the case when you mean actually writing the story, I like to start at the beginning. This is probably due to inexperience, but it works for me. I reckon it gives you a better idea of what the reader will experience as you go, so you can build things up and make sure the narrative makes sense, as opposed to a fragmented sort of approach. But I guess that's what editing is for.

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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've had the same experience. I think this really holds true mainly for short stories or flash fiction, especially for a competition, for example, but in a full-length novel there's really no need.
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« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2007, 01:48:28 am »

I like to start at the beginning.

I think half the battle is deciding what is the beginning. It's really hard, even in a totally fictional world, to find a clear cut point that feels like a beginning, to almost any story. En media res is about starting the story halfway through the relevant events, and you'd guess the beginning is where the relevant events start, but you have to decide what events are relevant. If you start halfway through the relevant events and then flashback, then in a way you're making those previous events irrelevant- they just become scene-setting, like the stuff you do in a story that starts at The Beginning.
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« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2007, 09:37:52 am »

I've got around this by using a prologue set something liek ninety years before the 'relevant events' - the time when things start hotting up. The prologue is really The Beginning - it's where the main character discovers something that leads to the rest of the book'sevents. But in that ninety year gap, there isn't much going on, so I skip it. I am going to have to make use of flashbacks, but I think that when used right it can be a useful way of building tension - and also only giving the reader the full story in little bits, stringing them along. The events don't necessarily become irrelevant, they almost stand out more. I wouln't use a flashback for any other reason except fo very relevant scenes that occur with awkward timing - in the example of SaC, in the ninety-year calm where not much interesting happens but for these few things.
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He who keepeth a secret must keep it a secret that he hath a secret to keep.
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-Midnight Oil, Bakerman
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« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2007, 08:30:10 pm »

usually when an idea is swarming in my head, i try to create a story out of it. i create a plot/premise that sheds the idea in the best possible light; then, i weave out a suitable setting; next, i flesh out some characters that would be effective in expressing the said idea; and lastly, i put the story into writing---plan, edit,  draft and all that jazz...
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« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2007, 05:19:56 pm »

For me starting stories is making the background. I decide on the initial setting and then keep on expanding until I have the basics of the world, I then fill that world with people, countries, dragons (usually Tongue) etc. etc. I then make characters based off of these, both for historical purposes and for the 'story itself'.

The problem of this approach I have found is that I 'started' Weavers May 21st 2005, and I am still working on it over two years later Wink.

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