Questions about story beginnings and story endings have been asked for centuries. Aristotle is famously quoted as saying "In the beginning, there was nothing."
In a sense, this would be the ultimate story ending. However, we will not be looking at story endings today but rather story beginnings.
On this ROI Online Podcast Golden Nugget author and sorry expert, Michael Hauge will talk to us about where to begin in a story when telling it.
What should we start with? The first sentence of your book? The first scene in your movie or show? Wherever it may be, you need to know that this decision needs to be well thought out because it can make or break how people perceive what they are reading or watching.
Michael explains that there's always a tipping point.
At some point, prior to you pursuing the goal that you're going to tell us how to do, something happened. If you had to overcome a medical condition and you were just stuck in that condition on Tuesday, and on Thursday you began taking the steps that you needed to take to solve that then something happened on Wednesday because you went from stuck to acting. That's what Michael calls the crisis or the tipping point, the thing that made you take action.
You want to start the story as close to that moment as you can.
So you want to describe your everyday life. And it's the same if you're talking about someone else who you helped start with a setup that says, this is where I was stuck before I finally made that decision, I finally heard the wisdom that was going to move me to action, or before an event occurred that forced me to finally get in shape and lose weight, or whatever it might be.
You don't want to start the story in college and tell us everything that led up to it, that can be a bit too long, maybe you could try something like "I was stuck, I didn't think I should be stuck because I had this degree and I'd already worked here." But here's a picture of my everyday life, and then this tipping point occurred.
Michael Hauge will give us a few tips on where should we begin:
- Begin with the emotion. The story needs to start with a powerful emotional event that sets up both story and protagonist.
- Start "in the middle of things." This technique can be used for all sorts of stories but is best suited for mystery or thriller genres because it keeps readers engaged by revealing information as the story unfolds.
- Consider using a prologue to set up the story and give information on what readers need to know in order to understand it.
- Start at the end. This is a technique that can be used for short story collections or any story in which revealing information as the story unfolds would not work because there's no mystery to solve and nothing about what happened previously needs explanation.
Storytelling is an art that has been around since the beginning of time, and storytellers have always faced a question: where should I start my story? In this blog, we’ve explored how to use story beginnings to capture your audience. You want to pay attention to what you lead with because it can make or break whether people are interested in reading on. If you want help telling your story effectively, let us know!