Beginnings pt. 3 – Beginning at the End

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This beginning seems the opposite of what is expected – the first paragraph of the story begins where the story ends. The rest of the story is then leading up to this point.

For the author the advantages include knowing exactly where the story will end up and so carrying that clarity through the rest of the story.

It is often said that an effective beginning cannot exist without knowledge of what the end will be. In this situation the writer creates both in the same paragraph.

For the reader it can build an intriguing atmosphere which causes them to want to read on (if done well).

However if you deliver too much with the beginning there will be little cause to read on. An insufficiently fascinating end/beginning may cause the story to hit the bin.

This is further to my earlier blog posts on beginnings:

https://magic-phil.co.uk/2018/01/02/beginnings/

and

https://magic-phil.co.uk/2018/01/09/beginnings-pt2/

I have been relaying some of the items I learned from writing courses about the options available for beginnings of stories.

All of these are story beginnings which I have created for different writing courses so they are not examples of perfection.

When creating these beginnings I focused on one character “Dave the Effective Detective” and I got quite fond of him.

However if there is a story for him I do not appear to be the man to bring it forth. So this is all we are likely to know about him.

Beginning at the End

A fly buzzes around the lamp.  The lamp still lit in the middle of the day but no one will switch it off.  On the bed, the long cool body darkens in the heat and the missing space that once held an accountant’s brain is now sprayed upon the wall.

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Beginnings pt2

Further to the earlier blog post on beginnings:

https://magic-phil.co.uk/2018/01/02/beginnings/

From different courses I have some practice exercises for beginnings.

The beginning is important to any writing so I thought this was useful to share.

This time a more popular beginning than the last.

Bear in mind that these beginnings have received healthy criticism in their time.

There are different styles of beginning the previous one was “Third Person Objective.” this one is the “First Person Main Character” beginning.

In this the main character narrates the story and will be the “I” in the text.

The first person main character is one of the most commonly used points of view.

It allows the reader to have empathy with the character as they see the world through their eyes.

Because you control the point of view you can lead the reader in a direction that you choose.

You can make them feel that they are participating or even mislead (and surprise them).

It is also easier on the author who can work with one point of view only.

Unfortunately it brings the same restrictions as a single point of view in any walk of life. You can only see through one character’s eyes. You limit yourself to their perspective (which might be biased or unreliable).

Elements that occur outside of that character’s awareness are more difficult to introduce into the story.

These beginnings will all involve my favourite character at the time of writing “Dave the Effective Detective”.

I’ve never thought of a story in which he belongs. Condemning him to appear only in these beginnings.

The First Person Main Character Beginning

“I shouldn’t have done it, oh no I shouldn’t have done. Oh, they will lock me up me up now and I’ll lose everything.

The house will go and the car and I’ll be alone and I can’t deal with being alone and where will I be then.

Oh no I shouldn’t have done it” “Yes I should, I should have done it. I shouldn’t have failed, stupid Dave, can’t even work out how to kill himself. Dave the fool, Dave the idiot. Stupid, stupid, how hard can it be Dave?

A car, a hose, a running engine, Dave, eh?”

“You’re just worthless; you knew you were, worthless oh you should never have tried it.”

In my mind, amongst the voices declaring my worthlessness, a calm and quiet voice was whispering “get a hold of yourself Dave; hold it together Dave; come on Dave you can do it.” A voice now drowned by the babble of self-accusatory tones. I can’t face Belinda; she got me here of course.

I can’t move – I can’t face the space outside that door.

Outside that door now seems so threatening it feels like a doorway to a world I no longer know, I don’t belong there.

I know that I soiled myself in the night, but I feel nothing, I do nothing. I can’t feel anything; I just listen to the voices in my head again.

“Useless Dave, hopeless Dave”

Photo Credit: robert_oosthuizen Flickr via Compfight cc

Beginnings

One of the exercises that I practiced on one of the writing courses was to create beginnings.

The beginning is important to any writing.

There are different styles of beginning this one – the “Third Person Objective.”

The Third Person Objective depends upon a narrator overlooking the proceedings (from outside the story).

This narrator having no interest in any of the characters. He can describe each without bias and has a great insight into the entire proceedings.

This is a style that is hard to do well. In fact I can’t recall reading any fiction written in this style.

One problem is: if the reader is receiving the story via a disinterested messenger it is hard for them to have sympathy for any of the characters. This can result in reduced emotional involvement in the story.

Without any attachment to the story, why keep reading?

My beginnings all involve what was my favourite character for a long time “Dave the Effective Detective”.

Unfortunately whilst I loved the character I couldn’t find a suitable story for him.

Perhaps he’ll pop up as suitable for something in the future.

The Third Person Objective Beginning

There lies our hero, as unlikely a hero as you are likely to meet. Forty, chubby, unadventurous; such is the stuff that the fates have to work with.

Right now he is slumbering, dreamless, drooling a little into his pillow. His equally chubby wife snoring loudly at his side.

But – on awakening, the story of the rest of his life will begin.

Dave Cooper an accountant with Huntchett and Spendler. (An old and quite prestigious firm).

An accountant of some respect among his peers.

Never failing to make taxation savings for his clients. Never-failing to disguise the true extent of earnings using some clever legal loophole. Never-failing to make a healthy salary.

So, how is it that Dave still drives an elderly car? How can it be that Dave has never left this three-bedroomed semi (purchased twenty years ago)?

Why are the suits, hanging in a neat row in his wardrobe, both worn and unfashionable?

Why is it that today, his fortieth birthday, he will see that his whole life has been a waste of the breath that he expended?

How can a man so respectable sit this very afternoon hunched in his car trying to end his own life?

Why should Dave, an accountant (let’s not forget) of little imagination, become a mumbling simpleton of little use to anyone.

More to the point, how does this make him the hero of our story?

 

 

See my next post on beginnings here:

https://magic-phil.co.uk/2018/01/09/beginnings-pt2/