So, you’ve just written a story and have given it enough passes that you feel confident to give it to your critiquing group or first readers. All come back with the same criticism: the story begins too early. It begins three paragraphs in, or three pages in, or three chapters in, but it doesn’t really begin where you, the author, thought it began. And usually the criticism is spot on.
When you write, it’s easy to get caught up in your character’s lives, to feel you have to explain—in great detail—every aspect of their lives so that reader will fully appreciate the impact the major conflict has on your protagonist. However, by doing this all you’ve done is make the most important part of your story boring.
Despite what you might think, or what others might say, the most important thing about your story isn’t the plot, or the characters, or even the language you use. The most important part of the story is a good, attention grabbing beginning because if you don’t pull in your readers within a very short time your great plot, layered characters, and easy-flowing writing style won’t matter. Your work has already been put aside.
What if your story is historical in nature? This has been my dilemma for the past month. I have this parallel history story in mind and while I know the overall time frame, I don’t know just when to begin. There are other factors complicating matters, but after considerable thought and some research I think I’ve figured out when to begin, and the reasons to begin there, to my satisfaction.
Of course, once I’ve written it I’ve no doubt my critiquing group will tell me my story starts in the wrong spot.
I’m looking forward to it.