As an amateur fiction writer, I struggle to create a proper beginning for my stories. Do you have any advice for me?
Your question is something most writers think about before sitting down to write. It hinders their creativity, bogs down the mind, and stops the writing process completely.
So, how do you get over it? By just writing. Once you have your manuscript’s first draft you can polish the beginning to show what you want.
Okay, so you have the first draft done. Take a look at your first sentence and think to yourself, would I want to read further? If so, maybe you have a good start. Try getting people you know to tell you if it is engaging with the first line, then add the second. You will get a feel of what works for some, and not others.
Generally, if you just want to know how to open up the manuscript, I would suggest scene and characters right away. You don’t have to have a lot of action, but something happening would help entice the reader to keep going. You have just a few paragraphs to create a scene and something interesting to engage the reader. Make it good.
Some authors use weather to pull someone in, like a thunderstorm. Others could use the intense feelings of the character to drag in the reader. Try the following as a quick example:
Lightning arced across the deep gloom of the night, casting shadows about me.
The above sets an obscure scene. Let’s polish it a little:
Lightning arced across the deep gloom of night, casting shadows of the grave markers about me.
Does that grab your attention now? Let’s go one more step:
Lightning arced across the night sky, illuminating the gravestones and casting shadows about me.
So, in the first line there is now action (lightning storm), scene (graveyard), and main character (me). Since the painting of the scene has three items it will likely draw someone into the story, especially if it is followed up with really good narrative around a growing world and character(s).
Remember, you have one line, one paragraph, one page, to capture the reader and make them want to take your novel to the check-out counter.