Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How to write a story - (part fourteen)

But first, a huge and giant congratulations to Alex J. Cavanaugh whose book Cassastar came out yesterday. I heard it’s gotten some great reviews.

Now, as I mentioned back in September of last year, you can start your story in one of three places: the beginning, the middle, or the end. It all depends on your style and the type of book you’re writing. Lots of historical novels begin at the beginning, filling you in on characters and spaces and relationships before getting to what happened. The good writers do it in such a way you never think ‘backstory,’ because it’s far too interesting. Harry Potter started at the beginning. J.K. Rowling could’ve started at the end of book one and written only 6 books. But aren’t we glad she didn’t?

Books that start in the middle are going to have to fill in the back story as you go along, having jumped into the place where the action/conflict begins, or just before. Sometimes this is done successfully but I’ve also read books where the backstory was too skimpy and I never learned to care about the characters. These books are no longer in my library. A good example of this book is The Time Traveler's Wife which  begins in Claire's voice, telling us how her love, Henry, keeps disappearing. Then Henry tells us how it feels to disappear. And this is the very first page.

Lastly there are those books that start at the end. They tell you right off exactly how the book ends, but you are so fascinated by the revelation you don’t mind the author then telling you all how it all came to pass. It’s almost like reading the last page first with the author’s approval. Personally, I think this is hard to do. Can you think of any examples of this type of novel?

I tend to start at the beginning because I write what I like to read. The hard part is making it as good as Harry Potter. (Did I never mention that I think Harry rocks? For 7 books she sure managed to tie a lot of strings together nicely with a fairly happy ending – except for the loss of Dumbledore and Sirius, of course).

Where do you start your stories and why?


  1. Yep, I tend to start at the beginning because that's the way my mind works and I don't tend to do any major plotting before writing. If I pre-planned a book, I could start in the middle or end.

  2. I like to start my mysteries at the murder and go from there. It's the beginning but also the end as well. Why did the person get murdered? Who did it? The detectives have to work backwards from there. Great post.



If you're interested in my blog I'm interested in your comments.