The Big Bang: First Sentence, First Paragraph

CAB, 'Hawaii Five-O' team up for aircraft scen...
Image by DVIDSHUB via Flickr

I was visiting my neighbors this afternoon.  They had just purchased a season of Hawaii Five-O.  Somebody does something and Bang! Steve McGarrett, Danno and the team are on the case.  That’s what you want to happen with your story.  Bang! Begin.

Let’s take a look. Today I received my copy of Lustrum (Conspirata in the U.S.),Robert Harris’ second volume in his Rome trilogy.  The beginning:

“Two days before the inauguration of Marcus Tullius Cicero as consul of Rome, the body of a child was pulled from the River Tiber, close to the boat sheds of the republican war fleet.”

There we are.  And by the bottom of the first page Cicero has to make a decision.

It is highly unlikely that you will start with a Bang the first time you begin your story.  Don’t fret.  Just keep writing.  As you go you will think of ways to get to the Bang.  You may delete your original first scene.  You will probably rewrite the first sentence and paragraph several, if not many, times.  This is part of the process.

One of the ways writers paint themselves into a corner is thinking that everything must work and be perfect the very first time.  At the beginning of the process you just need to get the story out.  There is plenty of time to work on the all-important beginning.

Your guideline when you are thinking about your beginning: Get to the crux fast.

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