3 Essential Exercises For Writing Beginnings

3 Essential Exercises For Writing Beginnings


We are posting a series of Essential Writing Exercises to help you tell your stories. This post includes three essential exercises for writing beginnings.

On our course, Writers Write ONLINE, we spend time creating characters, plotting, learning to write dialogue, learning how to pace, and learning how to show and not tell. We teach you about viewpoint, setting, description, and scenes, and much, much more. In my series, I am going to concentrate on a few of these areas.

To help us get through this time of social distancing, I am going to post a series of Essential Writing Exercises to help you tell your stories. We’ve included exercises about dialoguecreating characters, viewpoint, plotting, setting, and pacing.

This week I have included three essential exercises for writing beginnings.

3 Essential Exercises For Writing Beginnings

When we teach Writers Write ONLINE, we find that knowing how and where to start a book can be challenging for many writers.

As children, we were taught to set up the story before we could begin. However, readers prefer books that start in the middle of the action.

They like stories where they can identify with the main characters immediately. They like to be oriented – to know who the story is about, what is happening, and where and when it is happening. If they feel comfortable they will carry on reading.

Most of our backstory belongs in our character profiles. We bring this in only if it is something the readers need to know. We need to create an inciting moment where everything changes for our protagonists. This creates a series of incidents that you can build into a plot.

Your beginnings create a mood for your story. They set the scene and promise the reader a tone for the genre you have chosen for your book.

MUST-READ: How To Write A Beginning And An Ending That Readers Will Never Forget

To help you start your story, try our three essential exercises for writing beginnings.

Exercise 1: Everything Changes

Write a scene where something happens that causes your protagonist to react. It has to be something so dramatic and important that they can’t ignore the situation. It should motivate your character to act or react.

If you’re struggling, think of all the major life stressors, which include:

  1. Marriage
  2. Death of a loved one
  3. Divorce
  4. Having a child
  5. Emigration
  6. Moving homes
  7. Going to jail
  8. Dealing with a chronic illness

If you need more ideas, read 30 Character Motivations To Kickstart Your Story.

Remember:

  1. Name the character/s.
  2. Use the five sensesdialoguebody language, and the internal thoughts of the viewpoint character.
  3. Show the setting through their interaction with it.

This exercise will help you understand the importance of creating an inciting moment – a moment where everything changes.

READ: 13 Ways To Start A Story

Exercise 2: Goals

Write a scene that follows the critical moment where everything changes. This is where your protagonist chooses or is forced to choose a story goal. This story goal should be clear from the beginning of the book so that the readers know where the story is headed.

  1. Name the character/s.
  2. Use the five sensesdialoguebody language, and the internal thoughts of the viewpoint character.
  3. Show the setting through their interaction with it.

This exercise will help you find out if your story goal is strong enough to support a novel or a short story.

Exercise 3: Set The Scene

Make sure that your readers know where they are. Use the five senses to ground your story from the first line you write. Write the first scene of a story from your protagonist’s viewpoint describing the environment through the five senses. Start with this prompt: ‘The sirens began at 2 a.m.’

  1. Name the characters.
  2. Use the five sensesdialoguebody language, and the internal thoughts of the viewpoint character.
  3. Show the setting through their interaction with it.

This exercise will show you how to ground your story from the first line you write.

The Last Word

Use these three essential exercises for writing beginnings to start your stories strongly.

Join us for Writers Write ONLINE for many more exercises like this (with feedback), and learn how to write a book.

© Amanda Patterson

If you enjoyed this blogger’s writing, read:

  1. Why You Need Surprises In Stories
  2. 7 Tips From Journalists To Write A Better Memoir
  3. What Is Flash Fiction & Why Should I Write It?
  4. 3 Essential Exercises For Viewpoint
  5. 5 Essential Exercises For Pacing A Story
  6. 5 Essential Exercises For Writing About Setting
  7. 5 Essential Exercises For Plotting
  8. 5 Essential Exercises For Creating Characters
  9. 5 Essential Exercises For Writing Dialogue
  10. How To Finish Writing Your Book

Top Tip: If you want to learn how to write a book, sign up for our online course.