Monday, December 6, 2010

Where do you start your story?


A story has no beginning or end;

arbitarily one chooses that moment of experience

from which to look back or

from which to look ahead.



Grahame Greene
The End of the Affair 1951

41 comments:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I want to live in that picture. ;)

Great quote!

Francine said...

Hi,

I'm with Stina on pic! Great quote too: just a shame all "how to write good fiction" books tell us the rules state one must concentrate on beginning, middle and end, for without all three what have you got (?), but then I love Grahame Greene novels That said, getting gack to your header! I try to start with a little action, touch of conflict and hint of desire.

BTW: I've just posted up 2 chaps of latest novel, rejected outright by Mills&Boon and rejected on partial by WRP, but I think chap 3 was too raunchy for the ed's taste. I know it's too raunchy to post up without blocking blog as featuring adult content! :o. So, now I can't make up my mind whether to send to an agent or try another pub after revisions.

Have a great day
best
F

Saumya said...

LOVE this quote and LOVE this movie

Anne Gallagher said...

Stina -- Oh Yes! That picture!

Francine -- Oh yes, beginning, middle, end. But where is the beginning. At the true beginning or really in Chapter 3 where everyone says that's where it REALLY starts.

Anne Gallagher said...

Saumya -- I'll have to get both. I forgot about the movie.

Christine Danek said...

Love the quote. I would love to be in that picture right now. If I hear "he took my doll", "Look what he's doing" one more time, I may have less hair later today.
Have a great day!

Christine said...

I start my story with character. A scene. A snippet. Then I build the characters and they tell me their stories. Then I try really hard to make it all make sense.

Great post and love the picture!

Em-Musing said...

Oh! Great quote. Hmm? My first draft, I ALWAYS start with too much back story. But next go-round, I realize where the story really starts and that's with the action. Yup, about chapter 3.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Where to start? That is a question, isn't it? Take CITIZEN KANE : it began at the end and became a mystery of pinning down the elusive "Rosebud," all the while telling the rise and unraveling of a driven man.

MOMENTO tells its entire story in snippets of backward narrative.

I think most readers are more comfortable with start with the catalyst moment (hopefully action with suspense) and then moving forward.

This was a great post and beautiful picture, Roland

Jennifer Shirk said...

Oooh, that's a great quote--really makes you think!

Liza said...

I'd like to start a story right in your picture! Stunning!

Melissa Gill said...

I'm struggling now with where one of my MS should start. I think I tend to start too deep in the action. I love that quote and that picutre too.

Linda G. said...

Great quote. Beautiful picture.

I differ with it a bit, though. I think life (whether a person's or a character's) is a series of connected stories. That's how we can divide it up into entertaining chunks--by choosing the right place to begin and end each one.

Of course, that's probably just semantics. I expect Mr. Greene and I mean the same thing, but have just expressed it differently. :)

Bossy Betty said...

Great quote. I've always been a fan of medias res.

Fascinating to think about.

Francine said...

Anne,

If the beginning is truly within chapter three, then that where mine starts with sexual explosion! :o

best
F

Lynn said...

Great quote! Makes me want to re-read my Greene studies from college. And, I'm agreeing with all but I wish also I took that picture!

Patti said...

It took me forever to figure out where to start my book and in the end I should have followed my gut, because I went back to my original start point.

Anne Gallagher said...

Christine -- One word -- Daycare. Two hours, maybe three, every other day, does wonders. Call the churches. They have some great programs.

Christine -- I do that too, until it all makes sense.

Leigh -- For MASQERADE's first draft, I ended up with 137,000 words. ALL backstory. I think I eventually started at chapter 5.

Roland -- KANE is so haunting. I like to begin at the beginning but then find the second one. Where the action is, or the inciting incident, or the first explosion. You know.

Jennifer -- It's Monday and I had nothing else. I love it.

Liza -- Isn't it just!

Melissa -- It's SO hard to KNOW exactly where to start. That's why I love this quote so much.

Linda -- I agree, a series of scenes. But goes much deeper than that. Especially in life. I could take chunks out, whole years even and rewrite them.

Betty -- Your flowers were inspiring today.

Francine -- I knew that. How about starting the story right after the sexual explosion so we get a hint of the raunch but not the whole thing.

Lynn -- Wouldn't you just love to be there right now.

Anne Gallagher said...

Patti -- Isn't that always the way?

The Words Crafter said...

He has expressed my life long thoughts...I've always finished really good books, wondering what happens next, ten years down the road, etc.

I also want to know how they got there in the first place.

BTW, I'd love to take a little vacay in that picture....

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's the most profound thing I've read all day!

Paul C said...

This quote from G. Greene is so poignant. Out of raw experience come nuggets worth narrative gold.

Anne Gallagher said...

Becky -- Beginnings and endings are the best. Like life they come in waves, and in the middle, sags.

Alex -- Thanks. I figured why not, it's Monday.

Paul -- Brilliant.

Elliot Grace said...

...read some advice once, can't recall from who, that I now live by.

"...hook 'em in."

The trick is to drop a reader into a scene, or better yet, one that's about to happen, on the cusp of calamity...and the pages keep on turning:)
EL

Dangerous With a Pen said...

I'm just taking a moment here to sigh with relief that I am not the only one who starts with way too much backstory until I can figure it all out. Still working on that.

Lovely picture... reminds me of Jamaica... ahhhhhhh! :)

WritingNut said...

What a beautiful picture and a wonderful quote!

I almost always start my story at the beginning, but I ALSo almost always get stuck and start thinking either way ahead or way back...

It's funny.. I tend to have a hard time living in the present ;)

G.~ said...

What a great concept. We get to choose the beginning, the end, the middle, all of it. But we all know that, it just needs to be said once in a while so we can remember that it is all within our control.

When it's put so simply, it almost makes me feel like an ingrate for complaining so much about my writing.

All of us here, with this dream to be published, have it in us. We can do it if we could only get out of our own way.

Thanks for posting that profound insight Anne. I needed to *hear* it.

Stephanie Thornton said...

I could use a little bit of that picture right now.

Sigh.

Finding that pivotal moment to start at is a bit tricky- sometimes it takes a few takes for me to find it.

Great post!

VR Barkowski said...

Great quote. It summarizes beautifully why the action open trend is nothing more than manipulative artifice. Stories should always begin with character, the when is arbitrary.

Domey Malasarn said...

Lovely! I feel this way more and more as I gain experience with writing!

Ann Best said...

No beginning, no end. It's true. We all live in the middle!!
Ann Best, Long Journey Home

Susan R. Mills said...

Awesome pic and quote! I start at the beginning. I can't help it. I'm a linear writer.

Donna Hole said...

Is that why I have so much problems with beginnings?

Very profound.

........dhole

Julie Musil said...

Timely subject for me. I'm prepping my beginning pages for my critique group. I wonder if I began my story too soon. We'll see!

notesfromnadir said...

I always start at the beginning & end at the end. I don't know where it'll end until I get there.

Susan Fields said...

How true! All those stories that are better off without the first chapter are good examples of that.

Creepy Query Girl said...

very true. SOmetimes the best stories are ones where you can spend hours dreaming about the characters pasts or futures n'est pas?

E. Elle said...

Ohh, the picture's beautiful. Thank you for including it.

I start my stories wherever the characters draw the line. Then we just go forward.

DL Hammons said...

I start my story's at a point where the reader has just enough time to get his feet under him/her and figure out the landscape, then I turn everything on it's side. :)

PS. I love the picture too!!

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Awesome quote. Goes along with "get into a story late and out early."

Rula Sinara said...

I was just reading an article in Writer's Digest (8 Ways to write a 5 star Chapter One) that said something similar. It said that beginnings really are arbitrary and it's up to the writer to decide which moment in time to start with. There are ground rules though that make it stronger. I think half of it is your gut instinct though. Beginnings are the hardest for me.