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What helps you most when beginning a story (1 Viewer)

Hi there! I was wondering if any of you could share what helps you to begin your stories. What is it that you usually come up with first? Do you come up with the ending, the characters or the plot first? Its been so long since I have written anything and I used to just start typing up stories, but it always caused me to coming to a block and never able to pick it up again. Any advice you all have would be most welcome!
Thank you in advance!
 

Lawless

Senior Member
What I come up first is completely random. Can be a scene, can be a conversation, can be a principle. And when I start writing, one thing just leads to another.

If you mean to ask what to start with when you want to write a story but have no ideas, then here is one example:
 

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
Similar to Lawless, sometimes an idea will strike my fancy when something in the world suggests to me, "What if THIS happened?" However, I'm not a short story writer, I'm a novelist, so I don't indulge many of those ideas ... just the ones I think would make a good book.

When I do decide I want to pursue one, I consider similar books (or movies) on that general theme--because everything has been done one way or another-- and then think about what I could do differently to put a new idea into that theme. Sometimes that takes a LOT of thought, and once in a while I'm not satisfied I have it worked out. There is a novel idea I've been considering for about 30 years, and I have yet to be satisfied with a motive for the main character to do what he'd have to do for my premise to work. LOL Luckily, I have enough other ideas to be able to bypass that dud and get some other stories written.
 

JBF

Staff member
Global Moderator
Hi there! I was wondering if any of you could share what helps you to begin your stories.

Screaming madness, usually. Sometimes leftover pizza.

What is it that you usually come up with first? Do you come up with the ending, the characters or the plot first? Its been so long since I have written anything and I used to just start typing up stories, but it always caused me to coming to a block and never able to pick it up again.

This tends to hinge on what you mean to write and the style you're going to use. If you drive the story via the plot (characters responding to outside events) you can run with a scene, or a sequence, or even a line of snappy dialogue. If you drive via character (the nature of the players largely directs how things unfold) you need a strong grasp of your people and a problem/circumstance against which they test themselves.

I often as not start with an issue and puzzle out what my people would do when exposed to its consequences. Admittedly, I favor this method because truly original plotlines are pretty hard to come by, so I vainly hope the characters are interesting enough to float a concept that isn't terribly uncommon.
 

NajaNoir

Senior Member
The way it makes me feel is what drives me the most. Be it sad, scared, happy, etc... If I can't feel it, I can't write it. Sometimes it helps to listen to a good song or contemplate artwork that resembles the mood I am looking for.

I almost always know the ending before I begin.
 

KatPC

Senior Member
Hi there! I was wondering if any of you could share what helps you to begin your stories. What is it that you usually come up with first? Do you come up with the ending, the characters or the plot first? Its been so long since I have written anything and I used to just start typing up stories, but it always caused me to coming to a block and never able to pick it up again. Any advice you all have would be most welcome!
Thank you in advance!

Hi @leeannealex.
For me starting a story always starts with either a word, a sound, a phrase followed by how I feel so I can relate to the story. If i can relate to it, I feel I can be more attached to it, as real feelings can come into play, thus making a truer story.

*This just came to me.
There was ad in England many years ago. It went something like: I want to be a ... Tree.
Now with this Tree there are many ideas that have formed in my head. It could be a lonely tree, and the voice could be the tree or the narration be about the Tree and its symbol to the narrator. It could be a tree in the park that has special meaning to an emotion you are feeling, It could be a nosy Tree, eavesdropping on peoples' private conversations as they sat on bench underneath its branches. It could be a climate protest story, the demolition of the park to make way for a new shopping complex ... etc etc.

For me at this current time, I would picture a tall lonely tree, with no leaves, coming through a harsh winter, the sun rising behind, the birds coming back as Spring was about to arrive, no characters. A story of rebirth and Hope.

It's a basic format, but it is how I would start a story. Whatever 'stories' I create inside this 'frame' is dependent on the day I start typing.
 
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Hi there! I was wondering if any of you could share what helps you to begin your stories. What is it that you usually come up with first? Do you come up with the ending, the characters or the plot first? Its been so long since I have written anything and I used to just start typing up stories, but it always caused me to coming to a block and never able to pick it up again. Any advice you all have would be most welcome!
Thank you in ad

I’ve tried all sorts of ways to construct a story, going at it at all angles and the way that works for me personally is using a mind map app on my iPad, I put in all the ideas and thoughts that come to mind through out the day and night for it and then come to the end of day I look over what I’ve come up with and start to put together the pieces, coming up with plots, plot twists, characters all sorts and go from there 😊
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
I don't write short stories, I only write novels. But I'd imagine the same principles apply. I don't have a methodical approach to the creation of the ending, plot characters, etc. It all just comes as it comes. I'll be thinking about a character and then ruminate what role they play in the plot and then strategize more about the plot beats, which leads me to more characters and so on. It's completely chaotic! Soooo... that's why I have developed quite a sophisticated methodology to capture my ideas.

I use a multiple-page Excel workbook. I won't say "spreadsheet", because that has a negative connotation for some with respect to creativity. But each one of the pages in the workbook records thoughts about plot, character, settings, scenes, plot beats, research, historical reference, timelines, and one catch-all for general ideas that have not yet gelled. Then when I write, I pull from each page as needed.

But generally speaking, I would say when I start to write, I have a pretty good idea of the ending. Your question caused me to think about why this is, so thanks for that! I would say, it's because when you write a story, however long, you need to have a goal. Where am I going with this? If you have a clear idea of the message you want to portray, then it helps you to decide everything else. What motivates these characters? How many characters do I need to tell the story in dialogue? What scenes need to take place to get to the end? What kind of setbacks might the characters experience while getting there? etc...

Perhaps if you run into a block, stop writing the story and just think about it, and then find your own methodology to capture your ideas, however, scattered.
 
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indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
I don't write stories, I only write novels. But I'd imagine the same principles apply. I don't have a methodical approach to the creation of the ending, plot characters, etc. It all just comes as it comes. I'll be thinking about a character and then ruminate what role they play in the plot and then strategize more about the plot beats, which leads me to more characters and so on. It's completely chaotic! Soooo... that's why I have developed quite a sophisticated methodology to capture my ideas.

I use a multiple-page Excel workbook. I won't say "spreadsheet", because that has a negative connotation for some with respect to creativity. But each one of the pages in the workbook records thoughts about plot, character, settings, scenes, plot beats, research, historical reference, timelines, and one catch-all for general ideas that have not yet gelled. Then when I write I pull from each page as needed.

But generally speaking, I would say when I start to write, I have a pretty good idea of the ending. Your question caused me to think about why this is, so thanks for that! I would say, it's because when you write a story, however long, you need to have a goal. Where am I going with this? If you have a clear idea of the message you want to portray, then it helps you to decide everything else. What motivates these characters? How many characters do I need to tell the story in dialogue? What scenes need to take place to get to the end? What kind of setbacks might the characters experience while getting there? etc...

Perhaps if you run into a block, stop writing the story and just think about it, and then find your own methodology to capture your ideas, however, scattered.
Like @Taylor I don't write stories these days - but I once did. After retiring I went to work at a local Harley-Davidson dealership, running their on-line sales and website. As part of that I had a blog of a bunch of my on the road biker stories. Weird things happen on the road, some tragic others funny. I wrote one about riding by Stanford University with my friends back in the 70's - we wore those huge cuffed bell-bottom pants that were popular back then, and the leader of our group had a bee fly up his pant leg. Long story short, he jumped off his bike and dropped his pants right in the middle of the busy street, then performed a crazy cowboy dance - much to the amusement of the co-eds watching along the road.
But I digress.
For me, stories are a different animal than a novel. I don't work out the plot before starting a story, I just write what happened. For novels, I'm very detailed, and like Taylor I use Excel to keep track of everything - the world, characters, etc. From there I write up the plot for each chapter using bullet points in Word.

I should say though, that before I touch Excel or Word the story has lived in my mind for several months. I already know the characters & world. Perhaps it's odd, but I usually know the ending before I know the beginning.
 
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