08 September 2010

Where Do I Begin?

As a totally unrelated prenote (oh look, can I call this a prologue?!), the Twitterous Ones among you will hopefully have already spotted my gleeful squeeing about the fact that I finally have the blog looking how I want it to. The non-Twitterous Ones among you, click through now and check it out!


Today, I'm revisiting an old question of mine, because I found it saved in my drafts and it relates conveniently to Monday's post on what you need before you write. For a long time, I found beginning stories really, really hard. Where did I start? At the beginning, obviously, but where was the beginning?

After all, as my MC in Santuary, Edge, says, "I'm not sure where any story begins. Mum always says stories begin with "Once upon a time," or "In the beginning" - but that only works for written-down stories. In real life there's no one standing behind your shoulder waiting to whisper the magic words that let you know that something Big is about to happen."

In writing, as in life. No one is there to tell you where to begin your story, and technically, all stories began with the beginning of the world, because if the world hadn't begun, our MC's parents wouldn't have existed and if they hadn't existed and done x, y and z, our MC wouldn't have existed, and if our MC hadn't done x, y and z they'd have ended up as a butterfly flapping their wings over Brazil.

Incidently, life is a perfect example of a chaos system in action. In order to be classed as a chaos system, you need three things: 1) sensitivity to initial conditions (a tiny change in the beginning of things drastically affects the outcome); 2) topographic mixing (that is, your red and your white are actually allowed to mix together to form pink, they're not just stuck statically at either end of your paint tray); and 3) variable density, which is essentially, for the non-scientific among us, the same as 2).


Life has a sensitivity to intial conditions, so fundamentally, everything about your character's life is important to your story.

Only it's not, because otherwise books would be a million pages long and really, really boring.

So. Back to where we started: Where do you start?

(Ha, did you like that?)

First of all, all stories have what's called an 'inciting incident' - that thing that happens that the main character absolutely can't ignore, that pushes them into action, that says now, now stand up and do something because either way, your life will never be the same again.

So that's kind of a good place to start your story. But what if you don't know what it is yet? Won't know until you write it? Where do you start then?

Well, where do you start? I've no idea. But this is where I start: with one simple question. And it isn't 'Where do I start?' o.0 Smart-alec. :P It's this, directed at my main character:

What are you doing, right now?

And then I close my eyes, and I listen for as long as it takes for my character to answer. And so far, so far, they haven't led me too badly astray.

Has anyone else tried this as a method of beginning? Does anyone have another tried-and-true method of starting stories? Or does everyone except me find this really, really easy, and just sits down and writes? :P :D

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...