Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What should happen in the beginning?

November means that the blogging world is hushed. Too hushed for those of us who aren't doing NaNoWriMo. But since I'm sure so many of you are working on your white, crisp starts, I thought I'd include a list of components for the beginning of a novel. (I got this from Charlotte Dillon's website).
I've read sites that recommend the "beginning" to occupy the first 25% of your book.

Starts on the brink of change.

Introduces the protagonist and provides a glimpse of his/her character, goal, and conflict.

Sets up the world of the book.

Shows "before" of the world and the protagonist, what they're like before the story events.

Hints at backstory, or at least indicates there is some relevant backstory.

Initiates the situation of the story.

Shows the inciting incident that starts the plot.

Sets up the major story questions (external, internal, interactional) and probably poses the external story question.

Initiates the external conflict.

Hints at the internal conflict.

Shows the start point of the central relationship.

Ends with the inevitability of change.


  1. Great checklist! I'll have to turn to this when I revise. :)

  2. A daunting list but a good one. Thanks for sharing! I invariably have to rewrite my beginnings when I finally get to the end of a book.

  3. This is such an awesome list! I have to check it against my WiP now. Thanks, Saumya!

  4. I find beginnings impossible. I usually just write one and scrap it a thousand times before I find my 'real' beginning. This post is a great way to look at what a beginning needs to achieve!

  5. Love your blog the typewriter too.

    New Follower....stopping by to look around.


  6. This is such an awesome list, Saumya. I am currently planning my trilogy, and this has come like a blessing. Thanks for sharing.