Where to start a story?

Where to start a story

At the beginning?

Not for me! I don’t think I could start at the beginning even if I knew where it was. For both my novels I thought I knew where the beginning was. Turns out I was wrong about a hundred times. And recently, when I thought I had it, and screamed Eureka (well, not exactly, more like had a glass of wine and ate chocolate), I now think I am wrong about where my story starts. All over again.

The inciting incident.

Begin with the inciting incident is something I oft hear. So I did that. The thing was, the inciting incident for that particular action was only one in a long line of inciting incidents for lots of actions that I had no clue about when I began to write ‘Katriona’.

Character arc.

Character arc is another good one. Who knows, really, how a character is going to develop? If anyone out there is a plotter and can plot a character arc down to every degree and maintain it when writing, please let me know how you do this. Please. Failing this, I tend to start when the character is in crisis, work forwards for a several chapters and then start working backwards when I get more of an idea where the story begins. It’s quite a lot of fun. As I work backwards I can see where future behaviour came from and why.

Any scene.

Another place to start a story is in any scene that comes to mind. Is something buzzing around your brain? Write it out and see where it leads. Sometimes I get scenes that buzz around and I ignore them for a while, but then I realize that writing them means I usually gain some insight that will help me elsewhere in the story, even if the scene doesn’t make the final cut.

At the end.

Well, why not? How did the characters get to this point? What merciless suffering have they endured to get here? How deep have they had to dig into themselves to find the answers? And what skeletons can we unearth as we plunge our shovels into the dirt lying just beneath the surface…

So where do you start a story? Or should that be, at what point of the story do you stick your pen in and begin to stir, what stenches arise as you nose around?


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