Friday, October 12, 2012

Where Does Your Story REALLY Start?

For a lot of authors, finding the true start to the story can be extremely difficult. It is for this reason that many authors find rejection letters showing up because those opening chapters of the story simply are not doing what they need to do. I am sure that you have also read stories that have done just this and know what I am talking about here.

If you think of a basic story line, you have to think of it as a line that goes on indefinitely in both directions. With your story occurring on a small section of that storyline.


Even though your story starts where our asterisk mark shows up on the line above, readers know there is clearly more of the story that happens before page 1 of your book. Along the same lines, we also know that when we close the book and write THE END, the story still goes on. Our characters are still living and the world does continue to go on. The problem though is determining exactly where you want to start and where you want to stop.

To accomplish this requires you as an author to think about the purpose behind your story. What is the message and the take away you want your readers to walk away with at the end of the story? This returns to that idea of theme that we have talked about frequently here on this blog.

We also have to stop and consider what really is the important information that the readers truly need to understand this message, as well as what information is crucial for the actual plot. We have to remember that the information we include in our stories is on a "need to know basis." In other words, if this is something the readers don't need at that particular time, then we leave off that information.

Therefore, if we talk about the beginning of your story, we really don't need that whole information dump that many authors try to include. It might be information you need to understand the story, but it might not be crucial to your reader. Adding this information will simply slow things down.

Let me give you a Biblical reference on this one. If we examine the stories in the New Testament, especially those of the 4 Gospels, it is interesting that we see the authors of the books deciding what the real message is they wanted to tell. Think of what they include and what they leave out. Essentially, Jesus is a baby and with the exception of the reference to Jesus as a kid being discovered in the Temple, and then we are with him during the last days. Those 20 some odd years in between are not important for the over-all story and message the author is trying to get across.

The point is to really examine what your message is and determine what you truly need to add. We don't need it all.

Have a great weekend.


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