When you're writing, how do you know where to start?

So you’ve got that idea. You want to write it, but then you are stuck. So how do you begin writing? How do you know where to start your idea?

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You don’t. If you think you’re going to write a perfect story in perfect order beginning to end it’s just not going to happen. So write down everything you know as it comes to you, in “order” or “out of order” and in the second draft and beyond you can focus on how it fits together best and what pieces are missing. For now, just write.

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Normally I try to start as close to the exciting stuff as possible. If my own beginning bores me…then that ain’t right, lol.

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Writing prompts are a really great way to get started, as they give you jumping off point to get started. If you know what genre you are writing in, you could search through those until one strikes your fancy and helps inspire you.

Or, think about your idea or characters and how those ideas could ‘prompt’ a starting point for you. That doesn’t need to be the start of the story, but just where you are excited to start digging your feet in. Maybe that ends up as the 3rd or 4th chapter, that is totally fine.

Usually for me it is when my two main characters “meet” for the first time. I want to jump right into that interaction, so I start there and then work backwards to figure out how they got to this point and develop the world they live in. Then I go back and edit to work all the seams together.

Alternatively, you could start with world building, developing the plot, or developing the characters. You might find an interesting detail that could give you the starting off point you need.

For example; while I was developing one of my characters backstory, I had an idea for a scene from her past that eventually lead to the “prologue” that kicked off the book.

You could also “force” your start by starting out with some generic opening just to get your writing juices flowing. You can always change it later once you have more inspiration. Plop your character somewhere and describe where they are and why. Maybe its a forest. Maybe its a house. Maybe its inside the closet of their crush’s room, watching them make out with their best friend.
Make up some dialogue a character says and then figure out what made them say it.

Essentially, the best way to start is to see what you have to work with and start branching out from there. You might need to develop the idea more before you get an idea for a scene to write. Or, you could just start writing and go back and edit and change once you get started.

Hope some of those ideas help!

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Wow thank you for the detailed post! :heart: This did give me ideas, thank you!

Oof, I guess this depends on the school of thought you’d like to apply to the piece. But whether you start from the start or begin in media res, you generally wanna establish an opening shot that consists of sensory details. Something to ground readers in the setting. From here, I like to shine a spotlight on what I consider my protagonist’s defining trait (at least at this point).

As an example, I’ve opened a story with the protagonist leaving a middle-of-nowhere diner and heading for his truck. Gone on about warm desert winds, the scent of marijuana on his breath, the sorry state of his truck and the upholstery he’s scratched away on long drives.
In essence, I’ve grounded readers in a setting and depicted the beginnings of a character with anxiety and possibly a drug problem. All of this is elaborated on in the rest of the story that I wanna tell.

Or for another, I’ve opened with a protagonist stepping out of his truck in a light rain. Talked about the click of the closing door, the sheen of the wet truck, the damp hair stuck to his forehead, etc. I then rushed him into a conversation with a seemingly senile fellow priest who swindles him into conducting a funeral in a town he’s new to, allowing me to show how the protagonist is easily flustered and taken advantage of (as well as showing how the older priest is an unempathetic prankster).

Lol, this took me a little while to write, but I guess I’m just trying to figure out how to put it in words. Setting and characterization, though. Ground the reader and then show (don’t tell) them what the one-line description of your protagonist’s personality is. Or I guess you could do it the other way around if you’re beginning with the protagonist’s thoughts.

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I’m sorry this made me giggle :joy:
But thank you! This has great suggestions for me! :slight_smile:

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I changed my beginning multiple times.

At first I started with a dark action scene where my MC runs after his victim.

Then I wrote an introduction and description of the scenery.

Then I was thinking about using a backflash.

And I ended up writing a ‘casual’ scene of my MC arriving in town, talking to an old woman before getting on with his business.

Like it’s been said just write what comes to you. I have random scenes popping up in my head, write them down and then I look where it fits best. Sometimes scenes I come up with don’t even make the chapter and I just cut them.

A book is a bunch of ideas bundled into one and scenes can be shifted through out the writing process. They way you start is one of those things. Most writers have shifted their beginning I’m sure :smiley:

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Ah thank you! This helps :slight_smile:

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I once wrote a Flash (this was for another site I’m on), and the initial screen had the words “Start writing…”

I used that to start. Below you will find the opening lines.

Start writing… Where do I begin? I’ve been to many places during my time within the Military, I’ve witnessed many things. But nothing prepared me for the horrors which Mary showed me. Mary died more than three hundred years ago, but she chose me to save her soul. At first I thought it was trauma, PTSD, and other ailments that I suffered from at times. But it was not, and I was not prepared for what came next…

Sometimes there is no start, it just happens. I never try too hard to start a tale. Once it was weather, and as I began to write a storm became the focus of the beginning of a tale. What ever you do, DONT try too hard to start. It will just happen, and something will inspire you.

All the best for your beginning.

SD

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you don’t

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Start with the part that excites you even if its in the middle of the story.

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:joy: Thank you for this.

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This is easier said than done, but just start. You just gotta place your characters somewhere and write. People have probably already said this, but you’ll most likely change the beginning of your story later during rewrites and editing. Right now you’re just placing the foundation of your story in order to get it somewhere wrote.

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When I have an idea, I begin to plan it out. Vaguely or thoroughly, depending on the genre and how complex the story is.

When I plan it out, though, I look at the beginning and consider what would be a good introduction to everything because when you start the story, you want to be as close to the inciting incident as possible, beginning where the plot starts.

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That is a good pointer, but I find that going with “The” or “A” flow usually works for me. Though it may be a differing approach to each person and what their topic may be.

I personally will take your pointer as a good guide for future reference. Cheers for that!

SD

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I never really know where I’m starting, going, or ending. I just pick a place and hope it works out. Lead it into the main story as soon as possible. That usually works for me, going in blind, but that’s just how I do it haha.