We have selected the theme, chalked out the plot, described the setting, infused atmosphere and lined up the characters. What we need to do now is to put the whole thing together in a story. The next problem is – how to begin!
How a story begins is crucial as the reader’s attention must be held from the very first sentence. One of the most common openings we have been exposed to is the typical fable formula—“Once upon a time there was….” It is a direct approach to the main characters of the story, putting them in the forefront from the very beginning. Over the years, this techniques has changed and story writers have tackled the opening in many ingenious ways. Naturally, the beginning will differ from story to story depending upon the type. For example, if it is a love story, it might open with a romantic atmosphere, if it sis mystery, it might start with a murder and so on.
However, there are nine interesting ways to open your story. The first is a rather serious and mature one, wherein you make a philosophical statement concerning the theme of the story: “There is something so destructive about jealousy that anyone who is slave to it, success clear thinking and triggers action that will invariable have devastating repercussions…” This kind of opening is not very popular both with editors and readers, unless perhaps, written by an expert in, say, psychology. But the reader immediately knows that it is a story on the evil effects of jealousy.
A less subtle approach to the theme is an opening which states its purpose right away: “Here is a story of a young man who believed that he could come up in life, by cheating others. Gifted with good looks and a glib tongue, he could attract people who were gullible and he decided to sail through life making this his chief occupation…” this grips the reader’s attention, because he knows what the story is about and is interested in knowing further about the man’s exploits. Both the theme and the character are introduced at the same time and there is action from the word ‘go’
Some event are important for the shaping of the story but not necessary for the movement of events or sequence of incidents. In such a case, it is better to introduce it at the outset and be done with it. Called the retrospective opening, it has the advantage of overcoming a minor but important hurdle – that of connecting a past happening with the present and moving on: “Sumant was constantly under the shadow of his past which held many bitter memories. He had an unhappy childhood, his parents had been indifferent to him because he was not as intelligent as his brother and his education had suffered because of his insecure feeling and deep complexes…” . With this background, the story can smoothly move on as the reader has been made aware of the reasons why the character behaves in a certain way.