a simple way to get started

Starting a story can be daunting, when you think about all of the characters, their complex relationships, the plot twists, the dramatic action and whether or not you even have a reasonable ending.

Dialogue is a great way to start – it can help to discover your characters in the middle of things:

“My wife left,” he said. “Took all my money.”


“And she cheated on me.”

“Uh huh.”

“Look at my hands. Shaking.”

“I see.”

“You’re a social worker?”


He tilted back in his chair and looked at her over his glasses.

“So they give you the crazies?”


Another technique for jumpstarting a story is to use a ‘Springboard Sentence’ – one that includes:

  • Character’s name
  • Descriptive phrase about that character
  • Suggestion of where she/he is
  • Mention of what that character is doing at the moment she/he is first seen.


Harvey Radnor looked every bit of his 61 years when he careened into the Doc in a Box having spent his rent money on Jack Daniels and a tattoo of a bull on his ass.


Now you try it. Open with dialogue or with a springboard sentence and see where it takes you.  Whichever you choose, keep in mind:  start in the middle of things.

Give yourself something simple to begin with and you’ll be surprised at what can follow.

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