Where to Start Your Story

Last week, I felt like I was wallowing around in my mystery.  My character has no clue how to investigate a murder.  She’s just stumbling along, gathering information.  Because of this, it feels like the middle just goes on and on and, dare I say it again, on.

Maybe that’s why this piece of advice from Peter Derk caught my attention.  In his LitReactor post, Start as Close to the End as Possible, his recommendation is to start writing the story again.  And this time?  I bet you can guess what he said.  Start as close to the end as possible.

This means that you cut as much exposition as possible.  World building?  Keep it simple.  If you are writing a fantasy and using a fantasy trope, you don’t have to spend paragraphs on your elegant elves and grubby dwarves. Spend your time on what is unique to your world not what is typical to fantasy.

I don’t have tropes like this to depend on but I do spend time describing my setting.  I’ll need to make sure that is mixed into the activity and not just a page of scene setting.

One thing that I found especially interesting was his reference to Breaking Bad.  When the series starts, the main character has less than a year to live.  That’s a built in ending.  A ticking clock.  It helps limit pointless meandering (ahem) and also increases the tension.

This is the same sort of tension Suzanne Collins created with The Hunger Games.  Katniss is chosen for the games.  By the end, she will kill or be killed unless she creates a new ending.

I’m not sure how I’m going to put this to work in my own story.  My main character isn’t terminally ill.  But she’s just left her husband.  Maybe she’s running out of money.  She wants to help but she has to solve this thing fast because she needs to find a job.  Note to self . . .



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