How Not To Start a Story

His alarm went off, waking him with a jolt.

Don’t start your story with some guy waking up to an alarm clock, or waking up at all, unless it is incredibly vital to your story. Like, there is actually an exciting reason for you to write about this guy waking up.

[Insert dream sequence here]. And then he woke up. 

First off, dreams are a cop out. Unless you’re writing a fantasy and the dream has the most important message of all to tell your main character (who, by the way, we have yet to meet), then there is no need to do this. Like, for instance, the dream is of the character’s dead father reaching out to him and telling him that he was killed by his own brother. Plus, we need to know your character. Otherwise this means nothing to me. Or your reader, more importantly.

“You know I like to wake up in the beginning of the story,” said someone of no importance because we haven’t been introduced yet.

Again, the important thing to remember is that the beginning of your story should be introducing your protagonist and the situation of your protagonist. If you open up with dialogue, we are given words with no person. Your reader needs context for the kind of person who is saying something. With no established relationship comes no established feeling.

Waking up is hard to do, especially when you’re someone of no importance trying to be funny. 

Is your story going to be a comedy piece? A satire, perhaps? Well, that works just as well but if not, it is sad to intentionally try to be funny at the start of your story. Especially since many fail to pull this off. Don’t get me wrong. You could be the funniest person to have walked the face of the Earth and beyond. However, comedy isn’t the forte of many. Proceed with caution. If at all.

The guy woke up, feeling awake but tired. His mother came in to check on him, silently, saying nothing. No words are exchanged between them, creating a nothingness that fills the room of the guy who woke up as there are no actions to be observed. (And this goes on for pages and pages.)

Lengthy description for pages and pages where nothing happens. No dialogue, no thoughts, no actions. Sure, a couple of things happen in my example but that’s because I’m a person of pattern who thinks I’m hilarious. Still, you are bored. You as the reader picked up the book to feel somethings boredom. You wanted great escapes and fantastical adventures and you were handed a poorly crafted thesis on the various ways someone could describe a room. It is always best to put description in small pieces around dialogue and action to keep things interesting and active.


Let me know what you want me to write about next! Or share your thoughts on the above. Do you break the rules? Are there any opening pet-peeves you have? Comment below!


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