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.”
“Look at my hands. Shaking.”
“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.