Character writing Narration Writing advice

How to start a story in first person: 8 pointers

There is no single ‘right’ approach to how to start a story in first person. That being said, there are several ways to start a story using first person point of view and hook readers from the start. Here are 8 pointers for beginning a book in first person

There is no single ‘right’ approach to how to start a story in first person. That being said, there are several ways to start a story using first person point of view and hook readers from the start. Here are 8 pointers for beginning a book in first person

  1. Perfect your character introductions: Make the reader care
  2. How to start a story in first person: Begin with revealing actions
  3. Don’t tell the reader everything at once
  4. Make your protagonist’s voice identifiable from the start
  5. Make your protagonist’s voice active
  6. Make your main character confide in the reader
  7. Eliminate filter words and let the reader see through your protagonist’s eyes
  8. Introduce secondary characters via your first person narrator early on

But before diving into these pointers, let’s briefly discuss what first-person perspective is all about. 

First-person narration, or first-person viewpoint, as the name implies, is a story told from the ‘I’ perspective of the character. As readers we experience the entire story and their world from that character’s point of view, with all their faults and foibles: this is a limited perspective on the world. It’s worth bearing in mind though that while this might be your central character, that’s not always a given. For example in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the novel is narrated by Nick Carraway, who serves as the observer of the events surrounding the main character, Jay Gatsby.

When choosing a first-person point of view, another consideration is whether you will have an unreliable narrator ( one whose credibility is compromised or who is untrustworthy). This will affect the way you portray your character too. 

First-person narration is popular, as it offers such an intimate, in-depth view of a character, being told through the PoV character’s voice.

This first-person PoV (point of view) differs of course from third-person omniscient where we have an all-seeing ‘eye’ of the fictional world, and can experience it through different characters’ perspectives. This would be useful for following the character development for a number of characters.

Briefly, occasionally a writer might use second-person point of view, using ‘you’ as the point of view. This isn’t very common, however. An example of this is You by Caroline Kepnes: This thriller novel tells the story of a bookstore employee who becomes obsessed with a woman he meets and begins stalking her. The entire novel is written in the second person, with the protagonist addressing ‘you,’ the object of his obsession.

Let’s expand on the pointers listed above.

1: Perfect your character introduction: Make the reader care

Many novels now considered classics open with character introductions in first person. This type of opening, where the protagonist extends a friendly hand to the reader, can be very effective. Consider the opening of Dickens’ David Copperfield using first-person narrative:

‘Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o’clock at night.’

As far as introductions go, this is very matter-of-fact. Dickens doesn’t create a particularly strong emotional connection with the character right away. What Dickens does do, though, is create intrigue in the reader about David. We want to know whether he turns out to be the hero he refers to or not.

In subsequent paragraphs, Dickens adds details that make us care about his main character more:

‘I was a posthumous child. My father’s eyes had closed upon the light of this world six months, when mine opened on it. There is something strange to me, even now, in the reflection that he never saw me; and something stranger yet in the shadowy remembrance that I have of my first childish associations with his white grave-stone in the churchyard, and of the indefinable compassion I used to feel for it lying out alone there in the dark night, when our little parlour was warm and bright with fire and candle, and the doors of our house were—almost cruelly, it seemed to me sometimes—bolted and locked against it.’

Dickens makes us want to know the outcome of the story, then proceeds to make us empathize with his narrator through his story of loss.

Making the reader care doesn’t necessarily mean making the reader feel sorry for your character: Readers can just as easily dislike your cunning anti-hero or feel in two minds. (This is where you might choose to write an unreliable narrator.) The most important thing is to make readers care, whether about your character or the outcome of a situation they announce.

Besides making the reader care, there are other ways to make your first-person story opening enticing:

2: How to start a story in first person: Begin with revealing actions

Beginning with character actions is another useful device for drawing the reader in immediately. Instead of your character describing a memory or past experience, begin with your character doing something.

Think about the type of action your story opens with. To create immediate interest, try actions that:

  • Create suspense or foreboding (E.g. ‘I lift the body as carefully as I can – no inexplicable bruises – and move slowly towards the edge of the boat.’)
  • Create empathetic curiosity (E.g. ‘I hold it together until the last person passes through the airport terminal and break down only once I’m in the relative privacy of the car park.’)

Showing your main character in either a state of high emotion or in a process of perplexing activity teases the reader with a sense of there being much more to the story and promises the reader that more will be revealed.

3: Don’t tell the reader everything at once

Part of what makes the example openings above fairly effective is how little they give away about the first person narrator’s circumstances. For the first, the reader might ask ‘Whose body?’ or ‘Is the protagonist a killer disposing of the body or is the situation more complicated?’

This is an important element of how to start a story in first person: Leave some of the most interesting tidbits about your character for later. When we meet someone for the first time, it’s overwhelming if they tell us every minute detail about themselves. The same goes for your characters – a little mystery keeps us wanting to find out more.

How to start a first person story - infographic | Now Novel
Pin or save this image for a reminder of ways to make your first person opening strong.

4: Make your character’s voice identifiable from the start

Many writers make the mistake of making their first person narrators’ voices too similar to their own. Characters that feel like stand-ins for the author feel flat and one-dimensional. Instead, make your character distinctive from the outset, giving them a stronger narrative voice. Do this with:

  • Personality: Is your character mostly optimistic or negative? Poetic in the language they use or plain-speaking?
  • Language: Does your character use lots of expletives or not? are they wordy or do they get to the point quickly?

Some other methods for making your first person narrator’s voice distinctive:

  • Choose four or five words that your character likes to use and make a note of them. They could be adjectives they use most often for things they like or dislike (e.g. ‘fantastic’ or ‘weird’), for example
  • As Jackie Cangro at Loft Literary reminds, it’s useful to think about tone. What is the tone of your character’s self-expression like overall? Do they come across as comical or serious, anxious or mellow? Sarcastic or sincere?

5: Make your protagonist’s voice active

Compare passive voice and active voice:

‘I was led to the hilltop house and told by my guide to wait while he disappeared around the side.’

Compare this to:

‘I followed my guide to the hilltop house. “Wait,” he said, disappearing around the side.’

In the second, active voice example, we have more of a sense of the first person narrator acting in his world as opposed to just being moved around in it. We have a stronger sense of the character as a real person who has choices and can make decisions of his own free will. We see the experience from his immediate perspective.

6: Have your first person character confide in the reader

One way to start a book in first person effectively is to make your narrator take the reader into her confidence. Secrets and intimate revelations create curiosity. As readers, being let into the narrator’s confidence makes us feel party to (and even complicit in) something important. Whether your narrator confides a misdeed in the reader or shares an intimate fact about their history (like David does in the opening pages of David Copperfield), this act makes the reader invest in the story by making the reader feel privy to privileged information.

7: Eliminate filter words and let the reader see through your protagonist’s eyes

Filter words are words that place the reader at one remove to seeing and experiencing what the character is seeing and experiencing. For example, a character might say ‘I saw that the building had started to collapse’. Instead, however, you could simply make your first person narrator say ‘the building had started to collapse’.

Ruthanne Reid has an excellent piece on filter words over at The Write Practice. Says Reid:

‘Filter words can be difficult to see at first, but once you catch them, it becomes second nature. “I heard the music start up, tinny and spooky and weird,” vs. “The music started up, tinny and spooky and weird.” One is outside, watching him listen; the other is inside his head, hearing it with him.

“I saw the dog, brown and shaggy.” You’re watching the character see the dog. “The dog was brown and shaggy.” Now you’re seeing what the character sees, and there is no space between you and the character.’

Reid does also make the important point that filter words aren’t always bad. Reid’s example of an acceptable use is the sentence ‘I see the shelves, and I see the counter, but I don’t see the scissors’. This is describing the act of seeing explicitly – you could write ‘The shelves are there and the counter but not the scissors’, but the former question conveys the character’s frustration at not finding what she’s looking for better. There is a keener sense of the character’s eyes roving over the counter.

Make sure that you aren’t unintentionally placing your reader at one remove to your first person character’s observations and experiences, right from the start of your novel.

8: Introduce secondary characters via your first person narrator early on

Just because you’re starting your story with your main character’s first person perspective doesn’t mean the focus has to be on them alone. Create intrigue by having your protagonist refer to a secondary character in your opening. Having your main character mention a cast member of your novel who is yet to appear will keep readers anticipating developments in your story and new entrances and exits.

Create a blueprint for your novel so you can find the voice of your first person narrator easier. Use the Now Novel process to start or finish writing a book.

By Jordan

Jordan is a writer, editor, community manager and product developer. He received his BA Honours in English Literature and his undergraduate in English Literature and Music from the University of Cape Town.

64 replies on “How to start a story in first person: 8 pointers”

This article has great advice for people like me who prefer to write in first person. I have a big problem with info-dumping when writing first person. I’m going to endeavor to keep back details so I don’t overwhelm readers.

Thanks so much, Jess. Info dumps can be tempting! You really have to trust in the reader’s intelligence, I’d say.

I’m a bit curious, I am attempting to start a suspense/drama novel with the first chapter Introducing the main character in a drunken, somber state, and I’m just unsure about even the first sentence. Your post has helped me think about moving more into the future of the book, but I’m stuck on the first few words.

I found out through re-reading that post that I didn’t actually ask you a question, so, What do you think would be a viable way to begin a novel with the guidelines above? The first person aspect is making it difficult for me, but I believe writing in the first person will be the best way to convey the message I plan to send.

Hi Delbert,

Thanks for reading and asking this. It’s difficult to say, not knowing more about the character in question. Is their disposition cynical and grumpy or cheerful and optimistic? What is the effect of liquor on their temperament, do they become frivolous and carefree or depressed and despondent? I think starting with a keen understanding of your character’s mental state at the opening will guide you towards first words. Other things to consider are what you want the opening scenario to be – why has your character gotten into this state, for example? Think about the cause and effect behind the action first.

Hope that helps!

This is extremely helpful! Thank you so much but I have a question. Do you recommend writing in the present tense or past, when writing in the first person?

Hi Maya – thank you! It really depends on your preference. The first person in the present tense is particularly effective for unfolding, suspenseful action. For example, compare ‘I heard a knock at the door. Silence. Then three more, more insistent’ to ‘I hear a knock at the door. Silence. Three more, insistent.’ The second really places the reader in the unfolding action. Both have their uses. If your story deals a lot with memory and past events, recollected, past tense would likely make more sense.

Hi! I am writing about a 600 year old martial artist type, set in a purely original fantasy world. She dies and is sent back in time and reverted to her younger self. This is my first attempt at a story and I’m really unsure how to proceed. I plan to publish it chapter by chapter which only adds to the complexity. How can I properly describe all the rules and such that govern the world, without bogging the reader down in exposition? Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what I’m stuck with as it all just seems like an insurmountable wall at this point.

Hi there, somehow your query didn’t ping a notification. World building is often challenging. Make the rules emerge in tandem with the story and you’ll avoid said bogging.

If, for example, you want to describe the political system governing your world, have a scene where you show how this system impacts on the life of a central character. Some world building you can do with narration too, of course. It depends on your genre. Many epic fantasies have lengthy prologues that give exposition. I’d say read an author like Terry Pratchett whose prologue-based world-building is imaginative and colourful enough to not feel like an info dump, even though it essentially is straightforward telling and showing on the workings of Discworld. Good luck!

I started writing a first person story but I just can’t seem figure out a way to introduce the character’s name. Which ways would you recommend introducing the character’s name?

An easy way would be to introduce a secondary character and have them call the narrator by name in conversation. Maybe something quirky like:

Lunch was pretty much the only time I got to hang out with my best friend Heather at school ever since I joined the volleyball team. She slid into the seat next to me and bumped my shoulder with hers, grinning as she said, “hey, Savannah! What’d you bring today?”

And then have your character react.

Good suggestion, Sierra. You can do it this way icee. You could even pull a Melville and have your narrator introduce themselves directly (Melville opens Moby Dick ‘Call me Ishmael.’)

Sometimes it’s a good idea to take a step back at this stage and return to brainstorming and outlining, Toni. Coming up with ideas while looking at the bird’s eye view of your story is sometimes easier than writing it from inside a detailed location or character scenario. Creating timelines for characters and their arcs is also a useful exercise.

Would it have a better impact to say something like “He grabs my wrist and insists that i stay.” or “‘Please don’t go’ he pleads as he grabs my wrist.”? In other words is it better to directly quote the character or to just imply what they say like its an action. (i hope this makes sense)

The second one makes better sense, as it says in the instructions, you want the reader to see everything thru their eyes.

Great question, Lindsay. Giving the character’s voice and actual words in the second example is more precise, and there’s an interesting tension between the politeness of the words (his ‘please’) and the forthrightness, even aggression, of grabbing the other character’s wrist. I second Raina!

im very young and in middle school and im trying to write a story about a girl who hears voices and even after this i am haveing trouble starting the story everthing i put does not seem right any sugestings i really need help. i used to have a friend who was better at me at this and helped me but we no loger talk becuase i have moved

Hi Layla. Thanks for sharing this challenge! You could start a number of ways:
1. With the words of one of the voices your character hears, particularly if they’re intriguing, ominous or otherwise surprising!
2. With a description of your main character doing something that suggests she hears voices (e.g. Perhaps she has a music player she turns up louder and louder, suggesting she’s trying to drown out the sound of the voices she hears).

These are just two examples – think about actions or scenes that could introduce the challenge she’s facing. You can do it 🙂

I am currently attempting to write a first person book based on my personal experiences of receiving a prenatal diagnosis and life after bringing home my baby with medical complexities and special needs. I am having struggles with knowing at what point I should begin – the diagnosis, birth, climax, or current time. I am also having struggles with including my name and/or short personal bio without losing the readers interest. Can you give me a few tips? I have blogged my journey but this is much more complicated to write.

Hi Swood, I hope your first person account of your postnatal experiences is already well underway.

Diagnosis would make a good dramatic starting point. You could also start with unfolding events and then circle back to the day, but starting with diagnosis I would say creates uncertainty and tension from the outset, roping your reader in.

Regarding including a personal bio, this is the sort of thing you can include in the book’s front matter rather than having to include it in the story itself. Other than that you could include autobiographical details wherever relevant to the unfolding narrative. If you need scene-specific feedback, I’d suggest sharing an extract in the free critique forum on Now Novel (this requires sign-up, however).

Hi, I am currently making a story on how my character is destined to become a murderer. She doesn’t find out till a certain age. Its a fantasy story. I just have no idea how to start it. Do I start from the top and give action and rise down to the beginning? I have no inspiration at all. Everything I come up with seems so basic or embarrassing. I’m not sure how to go on about this. I want it to be like a hook. Its for school and I really wanna impress my teacher with the story. I just don’t know how to professionally start it. Thank You.

Hi Eunice, thank you for sharing that. I would suggest going back to that first premise and asking:

  • Why is the protagonist destined to become a murderer?
  • How does fantasy/magic come into the protagonist’s life/world? Are they magical themselves? Is their destiny to become a murderer related to magic in any way (for example, is it a curse that has to be lifted or something else?)
  • What kind of start would introduce interesting mystery that connects to the above ideas? For example, maybe the reader sees the consultation with the prophet who reveals the destiny, but we don’t fully understand the destiny yet. Or else we start with the period of innocence before the character finds out about their darker destiny
  • I hope this has given you some ideas. Please feel free to ask any questions in our online writing groups, you’ll find people helpful in chat.

I’m considering first person for my next story, my first attempt at it, and keep reading that you shouldn’t change tense. What are some opinions on it, where the first few lines or scene are in first person present then switch indefinitely to first person past tense? An example I’m thinking of is interview with a vampire. He starts with the boy then tells his story. My story I want to hook the reader with the present then tell how the protagonist got to that point. Thank you.

Hi Tony, great question. Changing tense is fine provided that the two distinct time-frames are clear. ‘Tense drift’ is different in that it occurs when one changes grammatical tense while describing events occurring within the same time-frame (e.g. ‘I went to the store where I will want to buy milk’). As the example shows, it leaves the reader wondering where (or rather when) on earth they are.

Say, for example, you had a prologue in first person and then chapter 1 began with the same narrator in past tense, you could make the distinction between time periods very clear with a chapter subheading giving setting time elements. For example:

Budapest, 1895
I hurry down the cobbled side-street…

Budapest, 1920
Let me tell you first what I found out about…

As for changing tense in the middle of a scene, it’s quite natural if someone is remembering earlier events, e.g.:

‘I hurry down the cobbled side street when I see an old building that takes me back to 1895.

I had just moved to the town…’.

If the rest of the story stays in this past tense, the reader might well wonder why the presently unfolding ‘later’ time of the first present-tense narration was necessary; why they need to know about it at all (if there are no significant revelations within this present-time). I hope this helps!

I am writing my life story but in a fictional fantasy mix. A lot of the trauma I suffered and survived, and I overcame my obstacles with mental health and addiction by living life as my spirit animal which is a mythical creature. Sorry don’t want to give the story away, but I am trying to capture the reader by taking them first to the moment I realized this is who I am and then go back to how it started. How can I do this?

Hi Malerie, I’m glad to hear that you overcame these things. I would say starting with a low point in the mental health/addiction cycle could be a good way to begin, as it would contextualize the necessity of change.

Typically a great inciting incident in a story (be it fiction or non-fiction) shows characters on the cusp of momentous change, so if you find a turning point (for example, the situation or last straw that led to you finding out about spiritual/animist ways of living), putting that early in the story would create a sense of departure. Then you could always cycle back to earlier events as the new path unfolds, so the reader gets the context for what led to these changes; some of the emotional heft. Good luck!

Thanks a lot for sharing this! I’m planning on writing a story that’s basically about lying. I’ve always been fascinated by things like writing books. I’m actually just a lonely teenager who drowns himself in books all day. Anyway, thanks!

Hi Gus, books are a great comfort, aren’t they? It’s a pleasure. I’d say go for it and write it! Thank you for reading our articles.

Thanks! I’ve read a ton of articles already, and surprisingly, I really enjoy them. Thank you very much for the advice btw! (Oops! I accidentally posted it as a comment!)

I’m starting a story with two characters switching POVs through the book. Its about nephilims. Having a issue starting because do I want the reader to know some or all of what is involved and why one of my characters is special in a way or do I gradually go into it? The other character is mad at them and should the reason come out in the beginning or middle? This is the only issues I keep having difficulties with.

Hi Krys, thank you for sharing that and for reading our blog.

I would personally lean towards revealing a little about the fact your one character is special upfront (enough to create curiosity) but revealing the fuller extent of this special aspect as the story goes so that there is a sense of character development and revelation.

As for the other character being mad at the first one you mention, when you reveal this would depend on when/how it is relevant to the story. For example, if the other character’s anger at them prompts the inciting incident (is the reason for whatever events set the story in motion), then it would make sense to reveal their anger at the start of the story. If, however, it’s an ongoing aspect of their relationship and the reason behind their anger is interesting for plot development purposes, then maybe showing the anger first and revealing its origins later would make more sense.

An editor could read the story as a whole and advise more on these aspects in context. I hope this helps! Good luck.

Excuse me, but I am entering a short story competition, and the due date is in pretty much a week. I want to write about a girl who is being cyber bullied, but I am unsure of how to start.
Thank you.

Hi Zoe, thank you for sharing that. Given the themes and subject matter of your story, you could begin with a scene that gets to the crux of the matter (for example, your protagonist reacting to a bullying post on social media, or else friends, family or teachers interacting with her and noticing that she’s more withdrawn and unhappy). Showing the ‘before’ situation before the story starts moving to an outcome (e.g. why she is being bullied, how life is before this circumstance changes) would help to supply the reader with your character’s goals, motivations and conflicts.

I hope this helps!

Hi there,
I have a brief idea of what my sci-fi novel will be but I don’t know how to start. The MC goes to University only to find out that she and every students are being watched for reasons unknown to them. I already know what the conflict is. Sometimes, scenarios pop into my head and I write it down. My main problem is finding the character’s voice and beginning the story. Any help?

Hi Ayeesha, thank you for sharing your writing challenge. That sounds an intriguing scenario. I’ve written a little about building narrators’ voices here and here. I hope these are helpful.

As for beginning the story, you could begin with their first day at university and the first signs there is something strange/creepy going on. For ideas on ways to start a story, here is another blog article you may find helpful. Good luck with your sci-fi book! Feel free to join our online writing groups where you can chat to other writers.

I have written a story based on a girl and her sister. The girl works as a bodyguard for a rich guy.
They fell in love. His secretary and his sister are the villains in this story.
But I don’t know know how to end the story.
Please help me

Hi Charissa, thank you for sharing that, it definitely sounds intriguing. I like that the girl is a bodyguard as it is represented as a male vocation much more often.

As for ending the story, perhaps brainstorm around each character’s goals, motivations, and how they impact the others’ desires. What do the girl and her rich employer want, presumably to be together? Why are the man’s secretary and his sister the villains of the story? Why would they want to stop the girl and her employer being together? Or how else might they make your main character’s life hard? The ending will grow out of taking these competing or opposing wants and needs to a conclusion.

Here is an article on ways to end a story you may find useful, too. Thanks for sharing your question!

“I yawned weakly as I rubbed my eyes with the back of my hand. Finally a moment of rest, I thought as I lay on the bed. ”
Can I use this as a opening, I mean of a chapter?
Like beginning of a story

Hi Charissa, you could do so (though I would suggest removing the adverb ‘weakly’ since the sentence captures a sense of exhaustion without it). I would say it would make an alright opening if the chapter then gets into why the viewpoint narrator is so tired and fills that circumstance with intrigue to create a hook (for example, if they’re tired because of the illicit relationship they have with their employer, as you mentioned in your other comment).

I would suggest thinking about how your opening is going to hook the reader, as yawning and lying in bed aren’t the most attention grabbing of actions.

“Your parents are dead”
The words kept ringing in my ears. I could still hear the nurse’s voice, telling me what I never thought would happen… least so soon. I stared at her blankly, unsure of what to do.

How about this?. Can I use this as the beginning?

Hi Charissa, thank you for sharing that. I would say that does provide an emotional hook plus a sense of uncertainty. At the same time, I’m curious how both of the character’s parents would be pronounced dead at the same time in a hospital setting. Is it realistic that both would pass on at the exact same time, even if they were admitted for a similar condition (e.g. burns resulting from a fire)?

So perhaps if the nurse referred to a specific, single parent this would be believable. It depends on the scenario at the start of your story.

Main characters who are orphans are also a bit of a trope (especially in YA fantasy) so I would also maybe de-emphasize that aspect of their arc and begin with a hook where this detail feels more incidental to the story, perhaps.

That way a plot event that may be necessary for your character to accept any call to adventure or to begin a growth arc will draw attention to itself just a little less. I hope this is helpful, and please feel free to ignore my suggestion.

I was thinking that the cause could be an accident. There were traveling probably for an event then an accident occurred.

That’s a little clearer, thank you Charissa. I’m wondering if they’re already deceased, would this role be given to a nurse or more likely a counsellor or family member? I imagine if an elder family member were available they would be given the first option of breaking the news due to the sensitivity of the matter.

I don’t understand what you meant by “where this detail feels more incidental to to the story”.
Please explain

Hi Charissa,

My apologies! To clarify, leading with the information the character’s parents have just died could emphasize the fact that the story is using the trope of the orphaned protagonist.

So revealing this information in a more ‘by the way’ type of way than making it the first line could draw attention to it a little less (for example, leading with what your main character wants to do, or, for example, what they remember of the accident (if they were there too, and whether everyone else in the accident survived) to create a little suspense about what they don’t yet know (that their parents were killed).

This could help to create more of a hook while also making the trope aspect draw attention to itself a little less.

I hope this clarifies what I meant further? This is only a suggestion, I just know reviewers can be a little snobbish about tropes that are very commonly used.

Hi! I just finished an introduction to my story which is in first person POV and I ended it thus ‘my name is Sasha, Sasha Williams and this is my story’. I am lost as to how to begin the main part so can I get a few pointers.

Hi Grace, thank you for your question. With pleasure! What is Sasha’s story about? A good place to begin is at a watershed moment where everything changes. This is often what we call the ‘inciting incident’ that occurs within the first quarter or so of the story (always in the first act) – the event that forces your main character to act, change, move, or grow.

Chat to us in our writing groups (you can create a free member account if you haven’t already here) and tell us a little more about your ideas so that we can give you better advice through understanding more of the context for your story.

This was a good 1st person POV lesson. But I wan’t to write a fantasy, mystery story. It’s about a young boy who studies in the school owned by a wizard and a witch. but his friends start disapearing one after another. He then wants to frnd out why his friends are dissapearing … Is there any ideas on how to start the story?

Thanks Clifton, I’m glad you found it helpful. That sounds an interesting scenario. I’d suggest:

  1. Brainstorm further about the scenario if you haven’t already: Why are the friends disappearing? This may give you some ideas for situations hinting towards the reason.
  2. Start with a hook that makes your reader want to know more about your young boy protagonist, the wizard and witch who own the school, one of the friends who has disappeared (or will later on): What is fascinating or curious about this school, these characters?

It is difficult to provide relevant advice with scarce further details about the story, but I hope brainstorming turns out ideas you like. You could always do a ‘draft zero’ and just begin, and change the beginning later if you find in rewriting that you find an idea you like more. Good luck!

I think i’ll go with your opinion. And thank you for wishing me good luck with my project. And come to think of it do you have a now novel app? because if you have one i’m sure it’s as good as the site (blog)

Hi Cliffton, that’s great to hear. It’s a pleasure. We don’t yet, no (if you see an app called ‘NovelNow’, that’s not us – we predate it).

Hey I’m doing a short story about a post apocalyptic Japan where this girls brother is captured and soon to face a death penalty. She has to journey to get to where he is being held to save him. I was wondering if this hook is ok

This is the hook.
“You’ll die out there”! “Don’t do this to us”! “You won’t make it 3 minutes”! This is what the people of Osaka District 33 screamed at me as I walked down the uneven street toward the district’s exit. The people I once trusted now looked at me as a stranger and a traitor. “Noriko, please just stay here, you can’t help him now” a child pleaded. I couldn’t let myself listen to them, I had to leave, I had to help my brother.

Hi Kermit, I’m intrigued. I like the sense of the locals’ fear as Noriko sets off to find her captured brother, and her sense of determination regardless of the cautions. This reminded me in setting and quest nature of the work of Haruki Murakami. David Mitchell’s Number9Dream may be another interesting book to look at for a quest narrative with a Japanese setting for inspiration and ideas.

The hook intrigued me, though it is quite speedy in the opening action and dialogue being quite dramatic. This being said, it may be preferable to a slower hook (try to weave in passing description where you can so the reader has a sense of place – ‘Osaka District 33’ at least nods towards this). I hope this feedback is helpful, keep going!

Thanks so much for the feedback! I thought the hook may be a little too short. I appreciate you explaining your opinion and a way to make my hook better. I’m going to modify my hook to be more detailed so that the beginning setting is easier to envision. Also, I will make sure to check out David Mitchell’s Number9Dream beacuse I’ve been looking for a new book to read. Thanks again!

It’s my pleasure. Always great to get an interesting question to reply to, Kermit.

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