Wannabe Writers # 16 - How to start a story

Wannabe Writers, the brain child of Sarah of Confessions of the Un-published is a writing group for the un-published and anyone is welcome to join. It's a place where future authors can ask questions, share stories, and get feedback. Click (here) to find more about how it works.

Where I am in the writing process:  Still working on the first draft of WIP3  Eyes in the Ashes.  WIP1 Floating on the Surface is waiting in the wings and being entirely rewritten. WIP2 Winter's Illusion is waiting patiently for editing. 

My current problems:  My brain is tied up with class stuff and life stuff  and I haven't had any time to sit down and concentrate on my current WIP.

My question this week:  How to start a story.  I've never been very good at writing hooks.  Any suggestions?  How did you start your story?  (Dialogue, description, action, etc.)

I like reading stories that start with action or dialogue that captures you and pulls you in to the story right away.     When I pick up a book in the store, the first thing I do is read the back cover or front flap, then read the first page.   If the first paragraph doesn't catch my attention, then I know the rest of the story won't.   If the first paragraph captures my attention, then I'll read the first page, then skip to random pages in the book.  I don't like stories that start with description. I like stories that put you right there in the midst of the story.  Eyes in the Ashes starts in the midst of an action and Winter's Illusion starts with dialogue.  

For example: (just made this up)

She slipped out the back door, ran for the pool house and ducked behind the gate. She glanced back over her shoulder to check for lights and if anyone had seen her.    Jacob's goons, Nathan and Packard were still at the front of the house, smoking.   If she timed it right, they wouldn't know she was gone until morning.   She shifted against the wall, her heart hammering in her chest.  Her ribs ached and it hurt to breath, but she couldn't let the pain stop her.  Not this time.

Want to know what happens next?  So do I....  Methinks, I have an idea for a new story. 


  1. Hey pretty good example of a starting scene. I also followed your link to the other post, how the passion for writing seems to fade, but it doesn't fade, it just changes to something deeper and stronger. I've noticed that the passion flares up again though (esp. during NaNoWriMo, if you've ever done that crazy writing month!)

  2. Oooh I like that very, very much! I want to know what happens next :)I agree with you totally about starting with dialogue or action, I think it's the best way.

  3. I agree as well. Mystery and conflict are the best hooks.

  4. I tend to give a book five pages to capture me instead of one paragraph, probably because I'm used to reading classics that are slower to start. If a book starts off TOO fast, I get disappointed when it necessarily has to slow down, or I just feel tired if it DOESN'T slow down.

  5. Goodness, I love your titles!

    I wish you much more time for writing! ;D

    That's an interesting book-picking process. Might have to try that sometime.

  6. Published author here, just back from a writer's conference, in fact. So I'm full of something. Hopefully it's advice.

    Know where to start a story? Wherever you feel like it. Write it to the end (this holds for novels, too). Once you've reached the end, go back and fix it. Craft it. Mold it into shape.

    Don't stress about where to begin. Stop thinking about the perfect opening. Just write. One word at a time.

    Good luck!


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