Theme Week: (The Cursed) Beginnings!

You've got an idea for a story, but where the heck do you start?

It's tempting to do a prologue, an entire set-up before you jump into the story - right? You want  your reader to know who your main character is, what he/she looks like, how happy/sad/nervous/scared they are... what kind of surroundings they are in. But... and this is a BIG BUT!!! DO NOT start your story that way!

If you must do a set-up -- do it for yourself. That can be your pre-story before you jump into the REAL story! And, actually it's not a bad idea to write down all kinds of character analysis on all of your characters. Detail your setting - I even draw maps and sketch out rooms, etc. Tell yourself what your characters look like. But again - DO NOT - put those into the beginning of your story. Weave those kinds of details into your first few chapters. It's not urgent (usually) that we know your MC is a blond. However, when she pulls a brown wig on to disguise herself - THEN is when we need to know that. Yes - a scene like that could be the first scene - but chances are, it won't be!

Your beginning needs to have enough mood to draw in the reader - enough voice of your MC for readers to start caring about them - and enough plot set-up that the pages are begging to be turned.

Hard? Yes. Necessary? Yes. Achievable? Most definitely, YES!

For those of you doing NaNo - remember - this month is about getting the story down. Don't concern yourself with the dreaded beginnings - just jump in and write. However, come December - your real work will begin!

Any books you can think of that immediately draw you in?


Mandy P.S. said...

So many books that immediately draw me in! Not a YA book but "Mistborn" by Brandon Sanderson, drew me in from his first italicized paragraph. Perhaps he was breaking a few rules by starting the beginning of each chapter with an ancient document that is actually the personal diary of the failed Chosen One of the previous age, but by golly it sucked me in.

It's a (modern) classic example, but Feed by M.T. Anderson really did draw me in with the first line. But what I remember most about Feed goes back to what you were saying about voice. I really clicked with the MC's voice. When I got to the end of the novel, I thought "Wow. It's like M.T. Anderson recorded the way I talk and used it to base his voice on." Took me a while, but I realized it was because Feed was published for my generation, those of us who went to high school right at the (recent) turn of the century. He must have paid a lot of attention to how we talk and think and flow. Because, seriously, it's like he recorded my brain. (Which is sort of ironic, considering the subject matter of the book).

Sareh said...

For my story, The Cursing, I start out with a prologue. I couldn't think of getting rid of it. I'm on a writing website, Inkpop, and so far, everyone who's read it, except for one person, loves my prologue. I think they're good if done right. But a lot of readers don't like them.

I'm not sure what my favorite beginnings are, but I think action packed ones or emotional ones draw me in the best.

Julia said...

Bittersweet - that is so funny about Feed! Wow!

Sareh - I have certainly read books with prologues that I've liked, too!

There are so many ways to tell a good story!