And How to Start
By Annette Rey
You have probably heard to start your piece of work in the middle and that thought has confused you. How do you do that? How can you make the middle sound like the beginning for the reader? Can you recall a story you have read that started in the middle?
Read on and you will see the sense this advice makes and how the middle is also the hook.
So you start writing a story. It opens with a lot of information about your character, which you think the reader should know. You are introducing your character, right? You’re thinking, how will the reader know what’s happening in my story if I don’t give them a feel for my character?
Or – your story starts with a lot of background, back story, because you’re thinking I have to set the story so the reader will understand the story development.
Or – you describe the setting, the environment, ad infinitum.
Let me ask you. Do you think any one of these beginnings is gripping, is a hook that grabs, is incentive for the reader to continue on?
The advice to start in the middle IS the best. Don’t start at the beginning. Start at a point of action. Start where you give a foreshadowing of something intriguing to come. THAT keeps the reader reading. He wants to know what is going to happen next.
For example, I wanted to write a flash fiction about a girl who loved a guy and what happened between them. Would I want to start where all was lovey-dovey? No. Boring.
I want to start where there is action, or conflict, or implied conflict. The first line has to give a foreshadowing that something else intriguing is going to happen. Then, I fill in some back-story. Then I jump into what is happening now. I give subtle details, hiding that information in words of how developments are affecting the character. The end IS the end, the conclusion. The end should hold a punch line, or a surprise, or a twist, the answer, the reason the story is being told.
Remember, this is flash fiction. A lot has to be said in very few words.
By Annette Rey
I must have just missed them. Evidence of their presence is engraved in the virgin sand left like a clean slate by the outgoing tide. Once this had been our ritual, walking as one, entwined in body and soul. I couldn’t take a breath lest he did. And then we’d find a snuggle-spot, away from the surf, a secluded area, and revel in our love. Exhausted, yet refreshed, we’d head toward the sea and romp with abandon like children, cavorting, splashing, laughing, embracing even then. And before we’d travel onward, he would leave a final loving gesture in the sand that would almost steal my breath with the beauty of it.
Now alone, I have collapsed on the beach, bearing witness to a new testimony that leaves me raw, mauled as if by lions’ curved and razor claws and eaten inside by raging termites and fire ants. The pain incinerates and obliterates the ecstasy of love that once encircled me.
Why don’t I bend in anger and rage and erase this public affirmation? Paralysis has overcome me. I am tossed aside, and without energy to even exact impotent revenge.
And so I’ll sit until evening tide, when the power of the sea returns to this place, and washes away this flesh-eating message that once boasted my name. The magic of time will work in me. Infinitesimally, I will heal as I wait for consuming waves to destroy all trace of the words encased by a heart, Matthew loves Mary.
Put yourself in this person’s shoes. All of this has already happened to her. She wants to tell you about everything. How does she get you to feel her experience?
Think about the story you want to tell. Think like a writer! Follow this advice and see how it turns out. Compare your new work to other work you have done. Evaluate.