How to Start a Story: Guide


There is a statement that the story begins when the “normal” ends. Confused? Keep reading to reveal the wisdom of this thought.

Difficulties in Starting a Story

The common problem of all writers-beginners that they compare their work to the books and stories they like and want to write something similar. And when they think of their story on the starting point, they cannot feel it the same way as their examples. But you need to understand that those completed stories we like were edited and polished many times until they reached the current condition. We rarely think about what was the first draft of the literature artworks. But still, we are insecure about our story.

This phenomenon is called a creative cap, and we all face it to some extent. The start of our stories simply cannot be as good as finished stories. And it takes a lot of time and effort to reach the point you are satisfied with your work. This can be a difficult process. But only overcoming it, you will reach your goal.

How to Start?

As we already said, the beginning of a story lies at the end of the “normal.” What does it mean? Well, when you state the life patters of your character, this is “normal.” However, those patterns can be as fantastic and unrealistic as you can imagine. But as soon as there is a breaking of the stated patterns, your story starts.

The essence of a story is that it moves us somewhere. This is the process of moving from the “normal” patterns to completely new things. Your characters changed throughout a story, and compared to the beginning, they are entirely different people now. They should overcome something, transform their personalities, become more mature, or reach the destination in any meaning. And the process of doing so is the story your reader enjoys. The story means a journey.

Here are some examples from the well-known literature pieces where the story starts at the end of the “normal”:

  • Sleeping beauty: Lovely baby was born on a lovely day and seems like everyone’s happy, BUT! The witch curses the girl, and this breaks the “normal” happy pattern.
  • It (by S. King): Average kids are unpopular at school, and they became friends, BUT! Here appears the monster who wants to scare and kill those kids. This breaks their “normal” of an average childhood.
  • Harry Potter: An orphaned boy lives with his aunt’s family and does not have friends or love from his relatives, BUT! He received a letter from a magic school, and now he is a chosen one and can speak with snakes.

As you see, when something ruins the “normal” of the setting, we see how the story starts.

This principle applies to the memoirs as well. They also start with setting a regular life like “I was an ordinary kid, lived in an ordinary family.” But then some event happens and your way of life changes forever.

Sure, there can be various approaches. The story can contain flashbacks or starts with an intro that does not set the “normal.” But those things are not the moments when we begin our story. Those elements are just additions to the setting, atmosphere, mood, and expectations. They can add some “flavor” to your story, but only after you finish it. The story itself comes first.

Wrong Start of a Story

You can probably know what we are going to talk about in this paragraph. This is because you likely experienced cases when the story started was in the wrong place. Have you ever started a book that opens describing a “normal” of a character, but do not break it for too long?

This happens when the author decides to describe things the reader is not interested in. In most cases, you can skip those parts, and the story will not lose anything. You already knew the environment and the usual set of events. So there are low chances you will want to dive into “normal” of a character. You are looking forward to the beginning of a story you opened the book in the first place. You want to spend time not on the description of a “normal,” but its breaking.

Guiding Points for Starters

The first thing for you: do not worry! Panic will never walk you in the right direction. Until your book is published, you can always fix anything.

So, begin with writing down the images that are already in your head. It can be the middle or even the beginning of a story. Your task here is to collect what you already know. You can always change the order of the scenes or add something in the process of writing or editing.

Or you can start with the first version of a scene you want to begin your story with. DO not be afraid that it can be a wrong variant as you can always change it during the writing or editing process.

Keep in mind: do not panic! Yes, we repeat this tip, but beginners tend to forget about it. Writing can be scary if you are not confident in your skills enough. This happens even to experienced writers. We want to reach perfection for our books and to make them like our iconic ones. And we can do so, but not at once.

You know, writing is like a sport. You cannot skip right to the Olympics when you just started your writing path. When you look at sportsmen, you can see how strong and successful they are. And we rarely think that they started from the bottom of the sport. They were not born champions; they had to work hard to achieve the current level of their body and mastery. The same thing is for you: be patient but persistent, and you will reach the level of Jedi.

Train Your Skills

Take 15 minutes and write down the moment of your story where the “normal” set of events is ruined. Then think and write down the description of the “normal.” Then see whether there is a catching contrast between those two phases.

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