Where to begin

One of the hardest things when writing a story is to figure out where to start.  Do you give some background?  How much?  Do you immediately jump into the problem or do you ease into it?

Those first words are crucial for every story. It is the hook that gets the reader to start reading.  It is the gem that gets the editor to say yes.

With a novel you can take a bit of time with these things, but with a short story you have to dive into the heart pretty quickly. The shorter the word count, the faster you have to dive in.

So that is where I am struggling at right now with this Space Encounters story I am working on.  I know the characters, I know the basic plot, however I don’t know where to start it. It should be easy right?

Well, it isn’t.

I don’t write much Science Fiction,  in fact, I think this is the first short story I have written.  I know at one time I fussed around with a SF story and had about 15,000 words or so on it, but put it away for a while.  It was a long time ago. But that isn’t what is keeping me from writing this short.

With the novella, “Where There is Water,” I found that my starting point wasn’t where the story actually started.  I had to go back, back into the history of that world and find a voice that carried the story.  I’m afraid that I’m going to have several false starts with this one too before I find the “right” one.

But in the mean time, I’m just going to sit and start writing.


6 responses to “Where to begin

  1. I have the same problem. I know my story, where it moves too, and how it ends, but that starting line… grrr, it drives me mad. Like you, i often find i re-write the start once i have written the story through. Still, it would be nice to get it done first off.


    • Yea once started it usually evens out. Especially on the second draft. I usually rewrite the entry point anyway.

      Thanks for reading!


  2. Good luck with tackling a new genre 😀 I’ve not really tried sci-fi either, always been tempted though! As for the beginnings of stories, I suppose it depends on the overall length of the piece, but I always try to follow an order of:

    Mystery –> Normality –> Action disrupts normality –> Action explained –> Introduce reader to major plot arc

    and then go on from there. I prefer to kick off with mystery rather than action because I feel that action (in literature, anyway) is always more effective when it’s built up to, and you know what it’s affecting.


    • Hey Alex!

      Good to see you again!

      I think I have this one covered now. was 3/4 through the story at 3K words and then found the voice. So started it over. Will be a quick rewrite and finish. Then I get to do some research on the next short story.



  3. I’ve had that same issue with my novel. I think I’ve rewritten the opening fifteen times. The first start was good, lots of action, but I needed to show something first that couldn’t be told through back story later on. It’s such a rough thing to do sometimes.


    • Novels are definitely different than short stories. For one, you have to make it interesting to continue reading. If you bore the reader too soon, you lose them within the first few pages. If you give them too much you risk an info dump and have nothing else to tease your reader with.
      Also as you write a novel, sometimes the voice changes, then the beginning doesn’t make sense.
      But I think Alex has the right idea.


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