Every Journey Begins with a Single Step… And a Stumble or Two…

Most great stories begin with an event that shakes the hero (or heroine!) out of the usual grind and into an unforeseen adventure.  I would say my moment occurred when I was twelve years old when I decided to start writing fiction.  I had been obsessed with books from the very beginning, I always had one nearby even when I wasn't old enough to read.  As I grew up, I used to act out stories with my toys or I'd have some tall tale to tell until someone would frustratingly say I ought to take all my ideas and write them down.  One day, I had an idea and decided to give it a try.  My first story was a young adult space opera story that I wrote by hand and finished in junior high school, which fell short of my goal of writing a whole novel but I did finish the whole story.  Since that moment, I've had assassins playing with politics in ancient Greece, rogue government agents trying to choose sides in a cyberpunk setting, a steampunk Cinderella and much more…

During high school, I wrote day and night filling page after page of words and comments of how crazy I might just be.  It became a way of experiencing life – if I could write about it, I could make sense of it.  I looked at every incident and instance that occurred around me as a story in the making.  Then, another important twist happened when I started college.  I stopped writing as much.  Considering that writing was such a huge part of my life, it was also a point when I had to choose between writing and experiencing new things.  I went with the latter because I knew that in the end, seeing more of the world would make me a better writer.  During that time, I worked on a young adult coming of age trilogy called The Destroyers, which followed a girl through three major points in her life – senior year of high school, the summer before her last year in college when her sister gets married, and ending with her best friend's wedding the summer after she graduates from law school.  The manuscript was long and scattered all over the place.

By the time I graduated from college, I had problems writing again more steadily.  A friend of mine suggested using fan fiction as training wheels to get back on track, so I spent some time dabbling in it until I felt ready to get back on the horse to the road to becoming an author.  Earlier this year, I felt the urge to take the leap once again and stick with it.  I have all these amazing stories I want to share, I just have to make the effort. 

And with these words I make not my first step, but a return to the road I wish to travel.

Indoor Voices Please

One of the worst ways to start a story is by opening with characters screaming and yelling at each other in the dialog.

It’s grating to start a story in the middle of an argument, and it’s jarring to open in a war zone of words.  Imagine walking into building for the first time, and having someone shouting angrily.  You wouldn’t want to be there, would you?  Opening with a whining or screaming dialog is basically greeting the reader in the same way.

If there are exclamation points and capitalized words in the first paragraph, you’re doing something wrong.