On a WIP I recently started that I workshopped in class this semester, one of my classmates suggested that I actually start the story at the end of my first chapter; he felt that everything leading up to that last moment was mainly backstory that could be weaved in later on. I thought about it and have decided he’s right — the story doesn’t really “start” until then.

As writers, we have to make sure our first 5+ pages are amazingly awesome. They need to grab the reader (and potential agents!) immediately & not let go. So if your story starts out slow with backstory and other build up, a reader might not be pulled in the way we want/need them to be. I know more than one professor in my program has said how we need to start in the action — don’t just lead up to it.

My thesis started where I always pictured it starting. Though I completely overhauled a huge chunk of the narrative, that is one constant that never changed draft after draft after draft. I didn’t realize it before, but now I see how incredibly lucky I was to know where that story needed to start. Now, in not only the WIP I just started but also one I’ve been working on for a few months, I’m curious if I’ve pinpointed the right starting place yet in either. I do plan to take my classmate’s advice, though, so hopefully that’ll lead me in the right direction.

So now I have a question for my fellow writers out there: how do you figure out where your story actually begins?

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