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July 7, 2013
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---------Original Message---------
I was wondering if you had any tips on starting a short story? Like for instance, I have the scene all laid out in my head, I know exactly what's going on and stuff, I just don't know how to begin without giving away too much info and then boring the reader. If that make any sense.
-- Thanks

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tips on how to make a beginning...?
-- Why, yes I do!

The fastest way to start a story -- is NOT at the beginning.

Open the story within one page of Hero Meets Villain, (or Lover Meets Beloved) with the story already in progress. Action scenes and snappy dialogue are the best hooks for snaring your reader, but hints of Mysterious things yet to happen works well too. I also set the stage for the story about to begin with a few lines of Description so that the reader can SEE everything as it happens.

Here are some examples from my fan-fiction:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Opening to HERO (Naruto)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
It was supposed to be a simple support and medical aid mission. The war zone where the two small border towns were slugging it out over the property rights of a waterway was supposed to be miles away. The hospital tents under the trees were supposed to be in a neutral zone.

On that particular late spring afternoon, Sakura Haruno, highly-trained chuunin ranked medical ninja, and second in skill only to the civilian surgeon currently on loan from Fire Country's ruling daimyo, was supposed to be inside those tents. She was supposed to be administering her medical expertise to the locally hired foot soldiers participating in said battle. She was not supposed be out in front of them battling Grass Country ninja.

However, when Kiba rode out of the trees on his pony-sized white dog, Akamaru, the sight that greeted him, and the rest of the ten-man back-up team from Konoha, was just that.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Opening to BOUND (Natsume's Book of Friends)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
My name is Takashi Natsume, and ever since I was little, I'd sometimes see strange things. Things that wore long robes and masks from centuries ago, but weren't quite people. Things with feathers, fur, or scales, but weren't quite animals. Dark, shapeless, things that stank horribly and floated through ceilings and walls, but weren't quite...anything in particular. Things...that no one else could see.

I guess you could call them...spirits.

Just this afternoon during lunch, right outside the window, I saw a grotesque skeletal head with long greasy hair sticking sideways out of a tree. The amazingly hideous view surprised me so much I spat my drink all over my desk -- and one of the two guys standing by the window.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Opening to "Junjou Sadist" (Junjou Romantica)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I discovered that I, Akihiko Usami, was a sadist in the truest sense of the word, the exact same moment I fell in love for the first time.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Opening to "Ten plus One Million Yen" (No Money /Okane ga Nai )
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Exhausted and lightheaded, Kanou sat in the mud under the icy rain and leaned against the reeking dumpster beside him. He didn't know if any of the three guys that had attacked him still lived, and he didn't particularly care. He had no idea where he'd dragged himself to and wasn't sure he cared about that either.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Opening to RAVEN (Kuroshitsuji / Black Butler)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The island sat rooted in an ocean of blue-gray mist. No moon, no stars...nothing reflected in the black waves that broke against the tall stone cliffs. A chilly wind rustling the trees and the crash of waves were the only sounds. No birds called, no crickets chirped in the endless misty gray. Time stood frozen. The sun did not rise or set. There was no day or night, only mist and occasionally a drizzling rain.

At the heart of the island stood the burned out hulk of a once magnificent mansion surrounded by the remains of a long forgotten garden. Stone benches and statuary peeked out from behind overgrown bushes and tangled rose vines that held no flowers, only thorns.

Kneeling on the ground behind one of the tall-backed stone benches was a creature made of pure shadow. It vaguely held the shape of a raven with massive black wings arching over it and a feathered tail that swept the ground behind it. The long feathers were dull and worn with age. However, it also had two arms and a human head with long black hair, though feathers speared through the long strands. A long ragged robe of shifting shadows clothed its form, the sleeves rolled to the shoulders. Glowing yellow eyes in a pale handsome face narrowed on the long knife it wielded in its clawed hand, neatly and swiftly butchering a carcass into neat pieces that it set out on the stone flags.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Opening to TWILIGHT (FF7/DoC)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Reeve set his mountain climbing foot-spikes deep and hammered in the final spike to hold his safety line in place. He was only a foot or two away from the top of the nearly vertical cliff side of the broad butte. Needing a quick break from his hours-long climb, he looked over his shoulder at the surrounding desert and eyed the last streaks of red and orange marking the horizon in the west. The rest of the sky had turned a deep electric blue that darkened toward the east. Soon the sky would be crammed with stars.

Twilight, the harbinger of night.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Opening to AUTUMN FESTIVAL (Naruto)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Naruto stepped out of the shower in the tiny bathroom, steam rising from his tanned skin. He grabbed one of the nubby white towels from the bar over the toilet and scrubbed at his rather overlong sun-bleached blond hair. With Jiraiya's hair being almost to his butt, his master hadn't seen the need for Naruto to cut his, so it had grown into a somewhat shaggy mop that hung well past his shoulders.

After scrubbing the water from his body, he glanced in the mirror over the sink. His eyes were their usual bright blue. There was no trace of red from the demon that lived within him. He smiled tightly. Good. One less thing to worry about.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Opening to KITSUNE BI (xXxHolic)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Watanuki Kimihiro's Monday morning began normally enough. Well, as normally as any school day morning had begun since he'd come to stay in the time-space witch's sprawling and magically-infested mansion.

Yawning hugely, Kimihiro sat up and absently tugged at his sleeping robe to straighten it. Gods, did morning have to come so damned early? He crawled out from under the butterfly embroidered curtains of his four-poster bed and collected his wire-frame glasses from the night-table. A quick look at the clock told him that he had exactly two hours before he had to leave for school.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Opening to APPETITE (Crimson Spell) ~ not yet posted.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Once upon a time in a magical medieval land…

The crimson-eyed, long-furred, ghost-white rabbit floated out of the cave, his ears, long curling tail, and single silver braid fastened by a small crimson bauble waving behind him. Gentle as a feather, his lightly glowing form settled among the tall grass framing the granite cave's mouth. With a soft sigh, he closed his crimson eyes to concentrate. With a small flash of power, he released the magic that held him contained and compressed into the small and seemingly harmless form.

Mist formed around the rabbit, expanded, and dispersed leaving the seated form of a slender young man. His fiery red hair, bound into three long braids with the ends tucked into globes of scarlet glass tumbled past his delicately pointed ears to settle in his lap.

He lifted his arms and groaning, arched his back into a bone-popping stretch. Dropping his arms, he stared out at the night-dark mid-summer forest. A sigh escaped him. Being stuck in a rabbit's form all day, every day, was beginning to grate on his nerves.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The trick to not boring them is
Don't Tell them ANYTHING!


Give broad hints, but don't Info-dump. Make the reader WORK to discover why this vampire hunted this particular guy down, and why he isn't running in screaming terror.  Make them put two & two together and try to come up with the right answer.

Keep your readers in SUSPENSE from the opening line to the bitter end.

The easiest way to do this is use One POV and make the reader figure out what's going on alongside the main character.

Use Dialogue to hint at clues to the secondary character's back-story. This way you make the reader an eavesdropper who MUST read on to find out: "What the heck is going on?"


Short Story Tricks


Keep the number of characters to a Minimum!
-- The larger the cast -- the longer the story.

This is because each and every character you use must have their story problem FIXED by the end of the story. If you don't, you create a PLOT HOLE that your readers WILL notice, and call you on.

Keep the Point of your story firmly in mind.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
What are you trying to Show with your story?

Love Conquers All
Greed makes one Greedier
Love = Insanity
Love doesn't always mean Happiness
Love isn't always Nice
You Reap what you Sow
Destiny is a Bitch
You can't escape Yourself
A Snake will always be a Snake
Sometimes, Love means Letting Go
Sometimes, Love means Giving In
Appetites will find a way to be Filled
Revenge only brings Misery

In short, know what you want to say and how you intend to END the story before you begin!


Only put in what you intend to USE.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If it doesn't affect the Plot, the Characters or the Point of your story, you don't need it.

This includes Description.

In a short story, everything is pared down to the minimum, so you only need to describe the characters your character directly interacts with, and their immediate surroundings, no more, but no less either. You want to make sure that your Reader can SEE what's happening, but you don't need to go into detail about every babbling brook and tree.


Once you've finished your story, Read it OUT LOUD to yourself.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This will allow you to catch most of your mistakes before anyone else sees them.

If you have to stop to take a breath before you finish a sentence -- the sentence is Too Long.

If you have to read a line twice to figure out what you just said, so will your Readers. Any time you have to reread anything, something is WRONG.

If you find your attention drifting from the story you are reading out loud -- so will your Readers.

If you find yourself skipping parts to get to better parts -- so will your readers.

If YOU don't find what you're reading interesting enough to keep reading, neither will your Readers.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In Conclusion...
-- Beginnings can make or break a story because that's the First thing people see when they start to read. Right there on the first page is where people decide, "Do I want to keep reading this...?"

It's your job as the writer to make that beginning so interesting that they simply can't look away until the story is done.

Enjoy!
---------Original Message---------
I was wondering if you had any tips on starting a short story? Like for instance, I have the scene all laid out in my head, I know exactly what's going on and stuff, I just don't know how to begin without giving away too much info and then boring the reader. If that make any sense.
-- Thanks

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tips on how to make a beginning...?
-- Why, yes I do!

The fastest way to start a story – is NOT at the beginning.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
DISCLAIMER: As with all advice, take what you can use and throw out the rest. As a multi-published author, I have been taught some fairly rigid rules on what is publishable and what is not. If my rather straight-laced (and occasionally snotty,) advice does not suit your creative style, by all means, IGNORE IT.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Looking for more Writing Tips & Tricks?
Add a Comment:
 
:iconglowingradiance:
GlowingRadiance Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for writing this, now I pretty much get the idea that we need suspense in order to make the reader read more.
In a good, simple way. :)
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:iconraspil:
raspil Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2013   Writer
If it doesn't affect the Plot, the Characters or the Point of your story, you don't need it.  This includes Description.


so many millions of times on this planet and every other planet in the known universe THIS
Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013  Professional Writer
LOL!
 -- Think of all those 5000 word prologues that get skipped -- and never read-- in favor of simply diving in to the story.
Reply
:iconraspil:
raspil Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013   Writer
prologues are just the writer wanking on the reader.
Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2013  Professional Writer
Thank God, I'm not the only one that thinks that!
Reply
:iconraspil:
raspil Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2013   Writer
we are not alone. 
Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2013  Professional Writer
LOL!
 -- I do use a prologue every now and again, but it's for Backstory. As in, it's actually a part of the Story, not some world-building info-dump.
Reply
:icon1st-hashirama-senju:
1st-Hashirama-Senju Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2013

I like to write short stories and one chapter stories, though I do have some ideas that will be multiple chapter stories. But I want to improve before I do the longer stories. This advice was helpful.

 

In the Naruto series, there are events that are told about, but not shown. Some would make good one chapter short stories, so I will do those since I really like the series.

 

When doing a short story, I usually start shortly before the main event. And sometimes a bit differently since some short stories might work better if done in a different way.  

Reply
:iconookamikasumi:
OokamiKasumi Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013  Professional Writer
Every story has it's own needs. Some start Before the main event, some start During the main event. It all depends on what the author is trying to accomplish, or explain, with their story.
Reply
:iconrama-kay:
Rama-Kay Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Wow. that was most helpful. Thank you so much!! Beginnings always seem like the hardest part while writing!
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