starting a story

by Molly
(California)

Question I have written all of my outlines and stuff for my fantasy novel, but I don't know how to begin it. Does anyone have any tips on writing the first chapter?


Answer: You have many options for where to start. But I would suggest that the most important thing is to start with an event. Try not to start with preamble. You can fill in the details later.

If you are telling the story chronologically, then you can choose whether to begin with either the inciting incident or the first signpost from either of the four throughlines.

The inciting incident is a logical place to begin, but sometimes authors prefer to start just after, where people are reacting to it. It creates a little mystery as to what just happened.

The most popular throughline to start with these days is the main character's throughline, so that the reader can bond with the MC right away. It's best to start with an event that illustrates who the MC is at the beginning. Let the reader see him/her in action.

Your other choices are the first event in the...

1. Overall story (though this is often done in a prologue so that Chapter 1 can be about the MC).

2. Impact character throughline (the first time the MC sees the IC doing something unusual or remarkable). Again, this should be an event.

3. Relationship throughline: an event that either establishes their relationship or shows how it stands in the beginning.

Of course, you don't have to tell the story chronologically. Some stories begin in the middle, at the climax, or even the end, and then jump back in time to tell the story of how things got to that point. You have to decide what event will make the best hook and the most interesting way for the story to unfold.

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