I heard so many people say that they struggle with starting a story.  They sit in front of a blank page, staring at it.  Does this sound familiar?

Personally, I’ve never had trouble with starting a story.  The reason is that there is a good way of avoiding the blank-page issue.  Firstly, you have to work out the outline of the story in advance.  Whether the outline is written down or held in memory, you need to know the skeleton of the story; otherwise, there is no story.  Once the outline is ready, the first event that puts everything into motion becomes apparent and your focus for the starting point.  You have to ask youself the following questions.  Where does this first event take place?  What day and time of the week, month, year is it?  Who are present?  What are they like?  What is happening?  Basically, you have to ask yourself what elements are important to tell in order for others to understand the first event that puts everything into motion.  These important elements are your starting point.  The starting point can be a description or a conversation.  There aren’t any strict rules or guidlines to follow for starting a story.

Let’s use a very short example.  Cathy, a teenage girl, is the main character in a story.  The story is about Cathy running away from home.  So, what is the first event that puts her running away into motion?  Here, the first event is Cathy and her mother having a fight.  Where and when does this fight take place?  This event takes place while shopping.  Thus, the moment of entry into the story is the arrival of Cathy and her mother into the parking lot of the store.  The following segment is a possibility for a start:

Cathy slammed the passanger door closed as soon as she got out of the car in the plaza’a parking lot.  She had had enough of her mother.  Her endless complaints and criticism made her sorry that she was even born–at least, into this family.  She began to walk toward the store, having no intention of waiting for her mother to get her purse and lock the car door.  She was just a few feet away from the vehicle when she heard her mother’s voice: “Can’t you even be polite enough to wait for the woman who gave birth to you?”  This comment was the last straw.  Cathy turned to confront her mother…  (Since this is a blog, the line spacing for the story is not properly used.)

Beginning a story is not difficult.  You just have to find the first main event that puts everything into motion, step back and describe the scene.  It does not have to be complicated or dramatic.  In fact, it is more ideal to keep it simple, honest, genuine and detailed enough for your readers to understand the situation.  Just visualize the event and start writing.  I assure you that you will no longer stare at the blank page, if you follow this simple guideline.

M. J. Mandoki