Thoughts all in knots, basically.
Question: I can pick up a pen and write a random short story without a second thought, but since I've had a good book idea I've had my thoughts about it all in a knot. So basically, my question is: what is a good method of beginning your story. I know how it ends, I know all of the major events, I have the characters figured out fairly well. It's just starting it is slowly sucking the life out of me. In my head it runs like a movie, and when I try to put it into a book it just doesn't come out the same way at all. It's like my brain has decided to take a Ferris Bueller's day off. So if you could, please give me some pointers/tips. Answer:
Since you're good at short stories, here's an approach you might try...
The first act of a novel will generally contain the first major signpost from each of the four throughlines. Think of these as four possible short stories. You can lead with any one of them.
Short story 1: In which the main character tries to cope with a problem. The idea is to reveal what type of person he/she is by showing the character in action. Usually this is a "typical" sort of problem you would expect the main character to face in his/her "normal" life - as opposed to the more outlandish problem he/she will confront in the rest of the novel. You are free to have the main character fail at this stage.
Short story 2: The main character sees the impact character in action, tackling a problem in a way totally different to how the main character would.
Short story 3: The inciting incident of the main or overall plot. An event takes place that concludes with a person, group, or other entity making a decision or doing something, that will change the future course of events for the majority of characters.
Short story 4: An event that begins the relationship between the main and the impact characters. It can result in their becoming enemies, friends, mentor/student, leader/sidekick, reluctant partners, rivals, potential lovers, etc.
You can even try writing all four of these short stories separately and decide after what order they should appear in. These days, there's a bias against putting the overall event first, unless it's in a prologue, in order to get the reader to connect quickly with the main character. But that's not a rule; the choice is yours.