How To Start A Story

So you’re thinking of writing a book or a story or a novel or just writing anything and wonder what the first thing to do is. A well-known author says just do it but you still can’t quite grasp what that means. First things first. The first page is everything to an agent/publisher. If it doesn’t hit the ground running after page one the only likely destination is the bin. But still that’s a bit too frightening to be thinking about when you first start out writing. And you’re still at the first page but the best thing to do is think about it in a loose manner. A scene needs to be set in the mind of the reader and it depends how much of an idea you have already. Do you have a specific character in mind, and do you know what kind of mood they are in? Have you decided on the genre and whether it is science-fiction or magic realism? How about the year the book is set in, and if it is a period drama, and if failing that, what about the weather? The weather is always a good place to start.

It’s the first page and you are trying to set a scene in the mind of the reader. There is no point just saying how the weather is. The point is that if it is a dark and brooding fantasy then the environment will reflect the tone and style of the book. It could be all lightning and triple moons. Is the character in a good bad or a bad one? and can the environment reflect this. Heavy rain and grey clouds for a morose character, minus the clichés of course. I can be excused them while I write for a generic reader. As you are just starting out then you will still be trying to find out what kind of writer you are, whether a young person or adult crime thriller. Do you focus on minute details or prefer to leave imagining up to the reader’s imagination and focus on action and dialogue. Once you have thought about all these things you realize that you haven’t written a word yet and the best thing to do is just write. I always say for the first time write the worse novel you can, see how far you get and this should relieve you of the burden of perfection. The grammar can be left till the end depending on your character. Once you have finished the manuscript then you can go through it slowly and check each single word. Read the text out loudly, and then print out the pages, and again read with a pen in hand marking where you could improve, and what you could add. Feel the sentences as you read, breathe slowly in between the paragraphs, and then put the said manuscript away in a draw until you are excited enough to read it again. And then repeat until you feel nothing else can be done.

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