From description to story

by Anna
(Texas)

Question: Okay, firstly, I'm sorry if this is a stupid question (I'm only thirteen and started reading this today), but I started the first chapter explaining the setting in a subtle way, but then, the part that staggers me, I don't really know how to transfer it from a description to an action. It's in third person omniscient view, and I was explaining what goes on in a library. Then I added the main character (twelve-year-old girl who loves to read). And, also, this is a fantasy in medieval-type times... if any of this information about the story is needed. Is this a common problem or stupidity? If it's stupidity, I apologize.


Answer: The important thing in an opening is to hook the reader into the story. Usually this is done by presenting an interesting narrative voice or character or a dramatic situation.

If your description of the setting fits the bill (that is, you present it in an interesting way), then you might consider a process of "zooming in and out" to get the story started.

What I mean by this is that you start from a more or less omniscient or bird's eye perspective, describing the setting. Then you zoom in a little to the library. Then you zoom in a little more to focus on the girl - what she's thinking and doing.

Once you're firmly in her point-of-view, you should stay there. However, you can have her focus zoom out a little. For instance, perhaps you start with her focused inwardly, on her thoughts and feelings at that moment. Then you can have her attention shift to some event that begins to happens in the world around her. Perhaps she goes to investigate, or is summoned, etc.

After that, you should be pretty much into the story.

Of course, you want that opening description to be intriguing and charming rather than an info dump, so you may need to keep it brief. A few unanswered questions wouldn't hurt, so that the reader wants to keep reading to get the answers.

Best of luck.

Comments for From description to story

Click here to add your own comments

Jan 01, 2014
That helps a lot!
by: Anna

Thank you so much! I've actually been stuck on the beginnings of much of my stories, but thanks to you, it's been clarified on what I have to do. Thanks again!

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Plot Invite.


 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook


NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles


"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards



"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero