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  • Writer's pictureIan Brooks

What is the Best Way to Start a Story?

book with images coming out of it

There is no simple answer to this. It’s like saying, “How long is a piece of string?” or “What’s the nicest ice-cream flavour?”. It varies based on personal preference and the best way to start any story depends on two things. The nature of the story and the reader.

The start of a story isn’t supposed to give you the middle of a story. Or the end. The climax or the resolution or the twist. It has a very specific function. To hook the reader. It’s the part of the book that is supposed to reach out and grab the reader by the ears and hold their attention. It’s supposed to make them want to know more about anything and everything that is happening in the story.

But it is also supposed to set up an expectation of what else is to come in the story. If you have written a gritty, grounded, realistic crime thriller, it would be a bad idea to have aliens in the very first scene (or any scene at all for that matter!).

One last important point of any story is to include the protagonist. Yes, there are exceptions to this and depending on whether the story is being told from one viewpoint or several viewpoints, one or more of the main protagonists may not be introduced until later. But know this, readers want to get lost in stories. They want to get to know your protagonist as quickly as possible and spend time with them. If you’re going to keep them waiting, you better have a good reason for doing so.

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