Rule #1. Start with a bang!

Get right into it right away. No leading up. No preparing the ground. No getting the reader’s mind into the right space. No gentle introduction.

Start the story. Something happens. Action, maybe even excitement.

Yes, at some point you may need to show the events leading up to the Big Bang Start, but show it later, preferably in little bits and perhaps in dialog. Don’t bore the reader with paragraphs of  “It was like this. First…and then…so, you see, later…

They just want to get to the story.

When I was working on my historical novel my agent and my editor both disliked my beginning. A beginning that I personally thought was both interesting and highly relevant. It was a short, three-part prologue showing the diverse backgrounds of these three woman. It showed it vividly and succinctly, I thought. It was necessary to show how and why they came to be in this situation, I thought.

The professionals did not agree and my lovely prologue, full of word pictures, movement, color and dialogue had to go. It nearly broke my  heart….until I realized that I could cleverly keep almost all of it as long as I moved it, in bits, to later parts of the story.

So it is now sprinkled through the first three chapters and the first page of my novel has the three young women stepping off the boat into a strange land. Reluctantly, I have to agree that it reads better – it gets the reader into the story right away.

It’s OK to start off your writing by giving that introduction. Maybe you need it (I did) to get yourself into the story and into the feelings and emotions of the characters. But you have to move it out of the way before any writing professional sees it.  When the structure is finished you can remove the supports.

Rule #2? Not important. Just get the action happening. That’s what matters most.


I fought for