Page One… How to Start Your Story

I’ve seen the advice repeated over and over and over again: START WITH ACTION!

Like books are: Lights! Camera! Action!

Gimme a break. Books are not movies and that’s why we have both. They do different things. After listening to a dialogue from Agent Hannah Fergesen on Manuscript Academy, you don’t start with action… you start with AN ACTION.

You don’t have to blow anything up, you can by all means if it works, but you could also get the mail. That mail better be interesting though because of what’s in the box or because of what’s not in the box. Are you with me?

Why is your character interested in what is happening? Why do we care as a reader. Tell us that interesting tidbit instead of what they look like in the mirror.

In the opening scene of your story something must happen that is out of the ordinary for your character in their current life. So if you’re character is used to bombs going off maybe it’s quiet… too quiet. That’d be weird for that character. If you’re character is a stay-at-home mom things being too quiet is also a big deal and can mean trouble is brewing.

By making AN ACTION happen that is important based on the character’s backstory is what will draw a reader in. It gives a meaningful context otherwise it’s just something happening.

If you want more on this check out Story Genius by Cron or her interview with Literaticat. If you aren’t listening to Jennifer Laughran’s podcast and you are writing any form of kid lit you should be, it’s excellent.

What action does your story start with? How is that action relevant to your character’s backstory that will make us care about them?

Happy Questing!

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