Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How to start a Story

Hey all,

Here's a lesson that I typed up for the USU Creative Writing Club that I wanted to share with you guys, hopefully it's helpful.

How to start a Story

What does a beginning need? (Not necessarily in order.)
1.Set the scene: establish the setting. What’s familiar about it? What’s different? What are “the rules”?
2. Establish the conflict: in other words what drives the story/what is the story about?
3. Introduce the characters: show who our narrator(s) is/are. Who’s our main cast? Who are the secondary characters of note? What are they like? How does the conflict drive them or not? Most importantly: what makes them different?
Overall: you need to prove that your story is worth it. You need to make sure that your story stands apart from the others.

Please don’t start out with:
1. DON’T start with the character waking up: it’s overdone and unoriginal and it puts the reader to sleep. (Rimshot.)
2. A character history: work the back-story into the story through subtext like how it should be.
3. Related to 2: no prologues. Like adverbs and Mary Sue’s kill them with fire!
4. A long time ago, once upon a time, this is based on a true story, legend tells of a...etc: especially don’t try to emulate classic novel openers that Dickens wrote, it’s weak and it shows that you aren’t very creative.

An additional note: I think that “catchy” and “witty” first sentences are overrated and are more of a distraction and a time sink to the author than anything. If you are focusing on making an original, innovative, and creative story you don’t have to worry about the first sentence because every word will captivate and enthrall your reader. A good story is catchy enough.

Thanks for reading, this year I'm going to be trying to update more often.

Questions or comments? Let us know!


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