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The beginning of a story stops me. (2 Viewers)

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LadySilence

Senior Member
I have a problem, which has been affecting me for some time.
It is my fault.
I have the story, I wrote a lineup, I have the characters, the landscape, I have everything. I also have Scrivner.
The problem?
The beginning.
The beginning of a story stops me. I don't know how to start.
It is my fault.
The beginnings stop me. I could write the whole book already.
Without a beginning though.
I don't know how to get out of this block.
 

J Anfinson

Retired Supervisor
Honestly what it comes down to is, just write. I'm sure you already have a basic idea of how the story is going to go in your head (if nothing else, maybe even just a chapter's worth). What I do is pick a spot right before something interesting is about to happen and take off from there. Worst case scenario you can always make an edit later.
 

natifix

Senior Member
I was thinking about this earlier as well. So I did a search on youtube for something and watched a video asking if it was better to have a strong plot or a strong character starting. The guy in the video explained why he felt starting a story or book with a strong emphasis on the character was best. At least that's how he liked to start his stories. He mentioned, falling in love sooner than later with the character allowed them to attach the reader and then later describing the events or plot. I kinda felt the same way, maybe cause of my inexperience, but I was convinced. I had stopped to think, where do I begin my story? And I am going to start right at the beginning, of whatever is going on close enough to a big event, but focus on the character and their life, who they are, and slowly bring the plot in as the relationships develop.
 

J Anfinson

Retired Supervisor
I had stopped to think, where do I begin my story? And I am going to start right at the beginning, of whatever is going on close enough to a big event, but focus on the character and their life, who they are, and slowly bring the plot in as the relationships develop.

That's basically how most writers go about it, I think. I tend to think about a story idea and characters for a while (sometimes just days, sometimes a year or more) and once I have at least a cursory idea of what I'd like to accomplish I'll pick a spot and get after it.
 

natifix

Senior Member
Writing out a plotline may help, I know for myself at least, I get stuck at the begining. So I don't write anything till I make a few paragraphs basically explaining the events the characters are to be involved with. Then each of those paragraphs can be greatly expanded upon. The content flow for me isn't the issue, it's always the order of which "what" events occur. Once I have the structure of the story, then writing in the details is more of a pansty thing and I just sit, write, and it all flows together. I wonder if this would help anyone who isn't doing this.

I developed this methodology when writing scientific papers. You can even use a spreadsheet! Easy to work with, and it can organize your ideas in a different way, you can make maps, and timelines, etc. Seeing differently can also spawn new ideas. Workflow!
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
To be fair I have problems with this and this could be giving some advice that might work for other people or not (it's important to receive the right advice). Right now since I ordered a book on sentences and paragraphs to be delivered at home (these issues I have had for a long time and this is because I think of schooling). One of the techniques in the paragraph book is journaling your reaction to a nonfiction piece. I agree that knowing the character is important to understand their plight or conflict in the story. The more you know about a subject you research could trigger some ideas as well.

I am sure some of my current conflicts and predicaments could be used for a story. Sometimes I get overambitious. I want to write original stories but deep down I know that is impossible (original as in to reinvent a plot trope in my unique case). I must know my inner self. Familiar plots on the other hand at least according to Kurt Vonnegut give the reader satisfaction. So whatever I plot at least for me I would use the advice of Kurt Vonnegut since I agree with it.

The other stories I tend to write are not using real life conflicts because I tried too hard to imagine the setting first or something else. The creative process of a successful writer varies from person to person. I tend to think I do want something that cannot be had or achieved. Characterization is the easiest way to create originality. The plot can be cliché and can be saved by characters. You could always base the character on your self. Everyone seems to know themselves well. I don't know other people too well.

The only way sadly is to write whatever whenever you feel like it. Currently, I wrote a small paragraph in word which I noticed I needed to redraft. Reading if you have a library nearby is the best solution. Sadly people don't always have that option available. I plan personally to subscribe to kindle unlimited. Since original ideas and characters are the main reason of me to start a story. I hope they have a sizable non-fiction section. Some classic works would not be a bad read either than were groundbreaking back then when such as in the golden age and so on.

Don't forget the library lets you research ideas for fiction. All reading can trigger inspiration. Every genre has something to offer if that helps you write the very beginning. Usually the story begins with a conflict.

I read some writers begin with other writer's sentences. But I think inspiration will naturally come from reading.

Also, if I abandon the current project I will return to it at a later date. (the two paragraphs I have started)
 
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Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
Try a sentence which tells as many of who, where, what and when, as you can, for example,
'Tuesday morning and Mary sat in her chair knitting and wondering when the post would arrive'
It works for all sorts of books, reading about John Bunyan it starts
'The two generations before Bunyan's birth had been a paradoxical period in which England as a whole was getting richer, but the poor were getting poorer.'

But maybe you mean further than the initial sentence. In that case I might try writing the rest of it first, there is nothing to say you have to start writing at the beginning and when you have already written the middle and end the start may seem easy-peasy.

Several people are supposed to have been asked how they start and replied "First place your bum on the chair". You can think about it and worry about it forever, don't worry, sit down and write, anything. A bit of dialogue, the ending, the beginning; it doesn't matter where you start, only that you start.
 

EmmaSohan

WF Veterans
The perfect beginning is . . . the one that gets you to the next chapter. I mean that seriously. Start writing at whatever seems the most interesting thing near the start of the story -- or just start writing somewhere -- or something Then keep going. I think you have that start in you.

When you are done with your book you can throw that start away and choose a better one. Really, you are MUCH better placed to choose your start when you are looking at a full rough draft.

And there is no prize for being the millionth person who tried to perfect their start and never wrote a second chapter.
 

JJBuchholz

Senior Member
The beginning of a story stops me. I don't know how to start.
It is my fault.
The beginnings stop me. I could write the whole book already.
Without a beginning though.
I don't know how to get out of this block.

I can relate to this, as I am the type of writer that usually needs a title to start writing the story that I had planned out. I'll have the overall plot, characters, and setting all nailed down (as well as extra points and scene sequence), but the lack of a title will stop me cold in my tracks. I like the title to reflect the plot more often than not.

My advice to you is this: All it takes is the first word. Even when I have the abovementioned problem, I'll walk away from it for a period of time, but come back to the blank page and start with ONE word, then another, then another. And....I'll do it without my precious title.

Think less about the wall that is blocking you, and more about a door that can lead you though it.

-JJB
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
This is a useful thread for everyone so that they can learn how to begin. Right now I am going to study carl jung's archetypes. I am particularly interested in the shadow archetype and animus. There are some reading lists out there. There's a list of over 300 archetypes in one blog I found. After I get tired of that I will explore the ennegram. It's worth a try. Many famous playwrights tried this approach according to a book I own (by stephen jeffreys). It's a good way to kindle the imagination to begin a story. I am on a limited budget but I will try to learn as much about the personality as possible. John truby likes to use archetypes. In his book he wrote, it depends on this approach for characterization. Knowing psychology can't hurt to understand people. I did an analysis today on The Anatomy of Story. So I am coming back with fresh thoughts on this. The king, the child, the trickster, and so on. If you study archetypes you can imagine people. Such as the roles people play out during the day. It's one approach and I know not everyone will go down this path in their writing journey.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
https://scottjeffrey.com/guides/

Here's a link to an internet web page I mentioned earlier but did not post. That has a link to over 300 character archetypes. The webpage I just posted here was created by a psychologist. I am starting to think it's just better to write at anyone time. Today I wrote an essay which has a lot of conflict. What causes people to be poor? I was able to plot from it giving my answers to the essay. It was free writing. I am sure archetypes have their place in literature. But I am starting to think in terms of brainstorming and planning or prewriting by answering questions might be an easier approach since you can also trigger the imagination this way.

Today I wrote a lot by freewriting about topics I felt strongly about (or diatribe against poverty). I also reread a story, and found a technology I could use in a science fiction story which I read today. I own many anthologies with short stories.

I think creating the goal is important. I used a tool which I bought. There are a list of questions I answered concerning the goal. Creating a goal for a character from your imagination about what they most value or based on their history (in my case I based it on some fictional characters, real people, and backstory from previous stories). Then I rewrote the backstory. If you have the goal then you can create conflict and obstacles.

Kristen Kieffer has some books on sale that help you plan the story before writing it which I have worked from using her writing tools.
 

Twisted Head

Senior Member
From my own experience, I've changed from a pantser to an outliner. What I've learned by outlining is that I don't have to start at the beginning. Each part of the outline is basically a chapter. So, since I have my ideas of what's going to happen in that chapter, I can start writing. Now, when actually writing, I know the first run through is going to be a draft. That's super important to me because it gives me all the reasons to get words on the page and not worry much about it. Prior to this, I would be so concerned about making things right the first time, that I got nowhere.

~T.H.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
From my own experience, I've changed from a pantser to an outliner. What I've learned by outlining is that I don't have to start at the beginning. Each part of the outline is basically a chapter. So, since I have my ideas of what's going to happen in that chapter, I can start writing. Now, when actually writing, I know the first run through is going to be a draft. That's super important to me because it gives me all the reasons to get words on the page and not worry much about it. Prior to this, I would be so concerned about making things right the first time, that I got nowhere.

~T.H.
That is what I did today. I agree with this post. What I did was outline or plan as well. For today that is and I plan to continue this to get out of a rut.
 

Tettsuo

WF Veterans
Please note, that most people change their beginning of their story once they've completed their manuscript. Out of the three books I've already written, three of those books had their beginnings altered no less than 5 times. It's extremely common to do this.

So know, if you can't move past the first sentence, the problem could be deeper than the first sentence.

Don't allow the perfect to stop the good.
 
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LadySilence

Senior Member
You are all right.
You have all been of great help to me.
I write without looking, I focus only on the history, without making me paranoid.
To correct and rewrite I will think later.
Many thanks to all.
 
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