Advertisement

Choose Your Background

  • Noah Bradley: A place to call Home

  • Noah Bradley: Their Mournful Tones



First Chapter: Where do I Start?

#1
I have a story that I want to start writing, but, I don't know how to start writing it.

To be more specific, here is my inciting incident:
My main character is a young girl who has lived a heavily sheltered life.  Her parents decide that they want to send her to school, but their current place of residence is too dangerous for that.  They send her to live with some friends of the family in a safer place where she can start school, and the real plot picks up from there.  (Her parents don't come with her because of prior commitments, and they want her to become more independent.) 

Here is my problem:
I have tried writing my first chapter a few times, but I'm never satisfied with it. I want to show the readers some of the girl's past so that they understand the girl lived a sheltered life because that detail is important to the story.  However, I feel that doing that will delay the actual start of my story, so I kind of want to just jump into things and have the girl already attending the school.  Does anyone have any tips on possibly doing both without having to use some kind of flashback?
Reply
#2
You don't specifically need a flashback. Just have her act spoiled. You can start off by having a farewell scene between the girl and her parents when they sent her to live with some friends, and she acts all selfish and spoiled, by not wanting them to go. Furthermore, you can emphasize that characteristic by having her behave naively and ignorantly (since she's sheltered, she doesn't know the ways of the world) - this plays into the whole show, not tell concept.

Example:

"I don't want to stay here! This house looks so dark and broken down! I want to go home!"

Emily stomped her foot as she shouted at her parents. Joseph placed a hand on his daughter's head and smiled apologetically to the Gardeners.

"Sorry...Emily has been living quite the sheltered life for now. She'll be quite a handful, but we'll be counting on her."

"Of course," Violet Gardener nodded. "Leave her to us. We'll make sure that she is safe." She dropped her voice to a concerned whisper. "Will you two really be all right?"

Martha put on a brave front. "Yes. It's a little dangerous for now, but we'll keep hiding. It pains me to leave Emily, but where we go, she cannot follow. She'll be safer with you."

"I want to go with you!" Emily shouted. She glanced at the Gardeners' house in disdain. It looked nothing like the mansion she used to live in - white walls, huge garden with rows of orchids, servants waiting at the doorstep and preparing her usual afternoon snacks. This black, gloomy house wasn't even a third of the size of her old home.


(Later, when you have her go to her room, you can have her comment on how her new room was the size of her old closet, and complain about how tiny it is)

Furthermore, this scene doesn't have to be too long. After she falls asleep, you can jump right to her going to school the next day. Have her comment on the "poor" breakfast she had as she compared it to the extravagant ones she was used to, and then she whines about not being able to go to school in a car/limousine, and being forced to commute on foot.

I hope this helps, but being such a terrible writer, I honestly should not be attempting to offer such horrible advice.
Reply
#3
That helps a lot, thank you! I especially appreciate you taking the time to write an example.
Reply
#4
No problem. I can only apologize for delivering such a terrible example.
Reply
#5
Your example wasn't terrible at all. It was very helpful. :)
Reply
#6
(08-03-18, 11:45 PM)OtakuButterfly Wrote: I have a story that I want to start writing, but, I don't know how to start writing it.

To be more specific, here is my inciting incident:
My main character is a young girl who has lived a heavily sheltered life.  Her parents decide that they want to send her to school, but their current place of residence is too dangerous for that.  They send her to live with some friends of the family in a safer place where she can start school, and the real plot picks up from there.  (Her parents don't come with her because of prior commitments, and they want her to become more independent.) 

Here is my problem:
I have tried writing my first chapter a few times, but I'm never satisfied with it. I want to show the readers some of the girl's past so that they understand the girl lived a sheltered life because that detail is important to the story.  However, I feel that doing that will delay the actual start of my story, so I kind of want to just jump into things and have the girl already attending the school.  Does anyone have any tips on possibly doing both without having to use some kind of flashback?

Your problem is a normal one in writing. Welcome to the club. I understand what you're trying to do and honestly, one of the best ways to work around that or craft that kind of chapter is read the work of others. Stephen King frequently does this. He has a style where he introduces characters poetically, their backstory by basically SHOWING their personality. 

Try reading THE STAND by Stephen King. You don't have to read the whole thing, but if you read the first few chapters, you'll get an understanding of the way he introduces characters. There are so many characters in this story and King introduces their backstory without deviating from the story.
Reply





Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)