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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Beginnings

   
Author Topic: Beginnings
C@R3Y
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I know we touched up on the topic, "Endings" in an earlier thread, so what do some of you do for beginnings?

I personally don't have a problem with beginnings, at least not when beginning a story for a rough draft... But I'm looking to explore different avenues, to see what others are doing, are up to when they begin a story.

How do YOU start a story? How do you know when you have a good beginning? On that note, what actually MAKES a good beginning? I like to hear what others have to say on that, because it helps me, as well, become a better writer. =]

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babooher
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I would like to first say that I'm not being prescriptive.

Normally, if a story is bubbling around and my gray matter, I won't start until I have at least a decent working title and a good first line. I know some people hate hooks, but I like to start with something good. I also need a good protagonist's name and then I check (for my fantasy or sci-fi stuff) to see if any terms I might be using that I think are unique have anything already done. So, for a story I'm getting ready to right now, I looked up the term crayken to see if I could quickly find it.

As to what makes a good beginning, I think if a suggestion or promise can be made fast enough, then it is a good beginning. If the promise is there, then I think the rules can generally be ignored. For example, ever seen the opening of Predators (the last Predator movie)? It is a waking up scene...and completely awesome and full of the promise of mystery and action. Presenting the promise (not necessarily the same as the main conflict) in a timely manner (which can vary by work, author, and reader) is what (to me) makes a good beginning.

[ March 21, 2012, 12:20 PM: Message edited by: babooher ]

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MartinV
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Beginnings are not as easy for me as endings. Usually I have many of them while I have a single ending ready. So I will try several of them, see what works for me, then listen to those that read my story and see what they think. They might persuade me to change or not.
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extrinsic
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A beginning of a drama starts with introducing, by whatever artful deployment, a main dramatic complication: a high magnitude want and opposition impeding achievement of that want. There is a First Cause that reveals an unbefore realized want that interrupts a routine. Is it a bear at the door? Meaning immediate danger at the door: a bug-eyed monster invasion. Is it a realization the love interst is slipping away? Is it discovering a dead body?

And thus leading to an ending where the main dramatic complication's outcome is unequivocally, irrevocably finalized: success or failure, personal growth or decline, salvation or condemnation.

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enigmaticuser
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For me I start a story where it seems to begin, and then later in critiques get told again and again that I started in the wrong place =)

Beginnings are hard because people have different expectations. I really don't mind a slow buildup as long as there is a cloud on the horizon of some awesome storm.

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LDWriter2
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Again it depends on the story. Sometimes I start in the middle of the action, sometimes I introduce the MC first. In one story I just started the MC stares across a large bar at the man who killed his wife.

In another a man stares at rainbows and wonders how he got to this strange land six days previously. Soon he meets the person who is responsible for him being there.

In two others the MC is in the middle of a space battle.

In another the MC sees something that leads him to think about the end of the world coming in half a day,

In yet another the MC is sitting on a curb dripping cow's blood.

I'm not sure if I like any type of opening above any other even though I do use action a lot. Sometimes I have to think and think or work at that first couple of lines but other times I know them before I start writing.

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MartinV
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I'm used of reading old novels (plenty of them at hand), which means I'm used of slow openings (though LOTR's beginning is too slow even for me). Whenever I try reading something new, chances are it will be far too action-packed.

I believe that a story opening should be about connecting the reader with the main character and do it as quickly as possible since that emotional bond is the main reason the reader will keep reading. This doesn't mean blood&gore action but it definitely means an activity which reveals the protagonist's character.

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Robert Nowall
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Usually I have something in mind, but when I write (or outline) the story, I find I have multiple points at which I can start.

John Campbell once told Isaac Asimov to start his stories as late in the story as possible---something that seemed so good I've tried to keep it in mind when I write. I once carved off eight-some chapters, probably about thirty thousand words, of a novel I was working on, 'cause I found a better place to start.

(Not that the novel was any good, really...come to think of it, I've still got it on disk somewhere...maybe I should put it on my website with my other busted stuff...)

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LDWriter2
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Speaking of beginnings. I said I usually do certain types but the one I am trying to d now is not coming.

I usually picture the opening scene in my head as I think of the story. Then I try to write what I saw. This time I'm having all kinds of problems. I may have finally solved it today but I just can't figure out how to say what I saw. I wrote and deleted maybe eight to ten openings. Except for the first sentence. I'm keeping that.

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