In last week’s article, we introduced the three points in a story’s timeline which are sometimes referred to as the inciting incident. All three are points that upset the main character’s life: the first opens the door to your story’s plot, the second is the first step along the plot’s path, and the third closes the door to turning back:
- The event which shifts the main character’s life in the direction of the story’s plot.
- The event which sparks the main character to react in a way that causes her to set foot on the path of the story’s plot.
- The point where the main character must deal with the consequences of her choices; she can’t turn back.
Don’t forget the readers
Once you have determined these three points, carefully consider each from the reader’s perspective. Which one will draw the reader into the story? Which one will make the her feel like she just has to flip the page to find out what happens next? As you evaluate each of these three points, ask yourself these questions:
- Does it have tension and/or conflict?
- Does it create a burning question?
- Does it flow smoothly into the rest of the story
Two final considerations
Before you finalize your choice and start writing the beginning of your story, there are a couple of final questions to consider:
- Will starting at this point create so many questions that that reader will be confused?
- Will the readers know enough about the main character to care about what happens him?
If the answer to either of these questions is yes, you either need to weave the needed information into the action or start the story slightly earlier to introduce the needed information. Either way, give the readers only the information they absolutely must have and no more or you risk losing the tension that will entice them to keep reading.
Choose the point you feel best meets these qualifications and run with it
After you finish your story, go back to the beginning, analyze it now that the plot and character arc have been fully fleshed out, then tweak it as necessary.