Great Ways To Begin Your Story

By on June 18, 2017
Great Ways To Begin Your Story - Writer's

Starting your story is just the beginning, but it is often the very hardest part. I am sure we all know the feeling of sitting down to start a new writing project, staring at that blank screen and the words just not coming out.

Sometimes we have got so excited about the idea of something, spent so much time planning, outlining and researching, that when we actually want to start we have already put so much pressure on ourselves to make our beginning amazing, that nothing seems to be quite good enough.

Your opening sentence has to be so many things, it has to have an impact, it has to get the reader excited. It should be powerful, original and gripping all at once. It sets the trajectory and the tone and the level of quality your reader can expect from your book.

So it’s no wonder we find ourselves fretting about it!

How can we make the beginning of our books deliver all of the above, and ensure they start the book heading in the right direction? Here are some things to think about:

Make sure you build momentum. An opening should be distinctive. Imagine it being quoted when your book becomes a bestseller! It should take a stance, capture what kind of book yours is and hint at characterisation. If, by the end of the opening paragraph the reader has an understanding of the character, setting and some sort of dramatic tension, you’ve opened your book well.

Start in the middle of the action

Often writers make the mistake of starting their book before it should really begin. They open with the character getting out of bed, dressing, and going to work - where something terrible or thrilling happens. Forget the first bit, start your book when the drama is already taking place.

Remember you don’t have to be too extreme

As long as you have a hook, and create a sense of intrigue your reader will be satisfied. You don’t have to start every book in the middle of a massive explosion or the worst thunderstorm ever. Remember, you want to build up tension, drama and suspense throughout your novel. If you start with the most dramatic scene, the rest of your book won’t be able to live up to it.

Make sure your reader can keep up!

Remember there are certain things that your reader will want to know at the beginning of your book, they want to understand the setting, be introduced to the main character and get a feeling for  what the book is about. If you try to be too clever, mysterious or confusing from the outset, they could easily lose interest.

Take advice from the greats

There is no harm in using other writers to help inspire you when you start your book. Look at some popular examples in your genre and see how they begin - by the end of the first page what do you know and how do you feel? Use this is a guide to help you craft your own opening and ensure you don’t leave anything out!

Remember, you can always come back to it!

Your beginning isn’t set in stone. If you find yourself agonising over it, just get something down and move on with the rest of your story. You can come back and re-write your beginning after you have finished your book. You always have options you can test and get feedback on, so don’t let the pressure of starting your book get the better of you!

A brilliant opening can really make a difference when it comes to the success of your book, so make sure you make yours stand out!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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