I was sitting down with a colleague the other day and he asked me how I start writing a story? There are many cliche answers for this. Start with an outline. Start with a character. Start with a climax. There isn’t a wrong answer for answering this and it’s different from person to person, but I wanted to respond with something genuine. How do I start writing a story?
I find the moment of intensity.
Every story should stem from at least one emotional moment, an emotional moment that binds the reader and creates a connection between a human and words on a page. This is what a good story does; it is a vessel for empathy.
When I start a story, I think about that moment of intensity. A victory in a war. A loved one passes away at my side. A break up moments before the prom. Moments of intensity can come in any form but it needs to be recognized because that is where you need to take the audience.
The story therefore becomes this vehicle that guides the reader towards this moment of intensity. Once you know where you are going with your story, you can decide how you want to take the readers there.
What I find to be a beautiful thing is that once you reach one emotional moment, I have knocked over my first domino — one emotion triggers the next and so the story continues.
So let me pose the question to you: How do you start your story? Do you start with something on the surface: a beautiful scenery or an old mansion? Or does it start somewhere deeper down: a character in a heated argument or a secret love affair revealed? Let me know. I’d love to hear your process.