starting a story

by Molly

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.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Questions About Novel Writing.

search this site the web
search engine by freefind

Celebrating our 2nd year as one of the...

 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