Friday Writing Question: Where do You Start?

Hello SErs. Harmony here. Happy Friday πŸ™‚ Before I get to today’s question, I want to tell you a joke (yeah, sorry about this) …

A guy brings a squirrel into a bar and sets the cage down.

The bartender says, ‘What’s that?’

‘A mystery writer.’

‘What? That looks like a squirrel.’

‘Yeah,’ the guys says, ‘he’s a squirrel and he writes mysteries.’

The bartender shakes his head. ‘How can a squirrel write a mystery?’

The guy says, ‘Easy, he starts at the end and works his way back.’

Okay, so right about now, you’re probably shaking your head and wondering which asylum they’re gonna put me in.Β  …

This comes from the final chapter of ‘The Last Fifty Pages’ by James Scott Bell, whose book I showcased back in April (which you can find HERE). And the [ahem] great joke(!) does have a point to it … If a squirrel can do it, you can. James Scott Bell tells us the wisdom lies in knowing the end before you start writing.

Which leads us to today’s question:

Where do you start writing your book?

  • The Beginning
  • The Middle
  • The End

So far, I’ve only ever written a novel from the beginning. And I often don’t know the end until I get there. Various schools of thought abound on this subject. Some say my method is fine. Others would disagree vehemently. Yet more would dictate that you always start your book in the middle.

Do you vary your starting place? Or are you a stickler for a certain method? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for stopping by, and have a great weekend, everyone πŸ™‚

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Harmony Kent

49 thoughts on “Friday Writing Question: Where do You Start?

  1. I typically write in order, but occasionally that isn’t the case. There are times that scenes just come to me. When that happens, I go with it. And occasionally, I have the ending but have to flesh out the rest of the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This sounds like the way of it for many of us. I love it when scenes come to me like that and the writing flows. Thanks, Michele! πŸ™‚

      Like

  2. I have read so many books that should have started with the third chapter as the first two were nothing but words and no action. I think where we start the story is equally as important as where we end it. Great post! Loved the joke!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I always start with an idea, and that gives me a beginning and a character, but I always know the end before I start writing. And I have to outline–I feel better when I know where I’m going and how to get there.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I do a little of everything. I like to have many tools in my kit and use them as required. My regular method is to begin with a lot of vignettes in my head. I write them on index cards. Eventually, they take the form of a story in my mind. At that point, I move the index cards around to create a storyboard. That becomes my β€œoutline.” When it comes to writing, I have to go in order through my board. As far as my last ending, it was pretty simple: Save the girl.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t outline except for a few brief notes, but I have an end in mind when I begin a story. I have been known to write out of order if a scene comes to mind that I plan to use later. Scrivener makes it easy to rearrange. I can’t imagine starting in the middle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve used Scrivener in the same way for the odd scene or two. Like you, I write in order usually. I can’t imagine starting in the middle either. Thanks, Joan 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve always start at the beginning of the story. Sometimes I know the end but usually not. What I’m working on now, and the slowest by far, I’ve bad to go back and provide the middle story. That has thrown me but it still works much like the squirrel writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. When writing mysteries, I’ll often outline from the end to the beginning to make sure I have all the clues in place. But I can’t write out of order. I experienced my first attempt at doing so in my current WIP. It wasn’t intentional. In fact, I came to it the long way around. I wrote some scenes I thought were in order, but then I started rearranging. What a mess! I’ll never do that again.

    But everyone has to work in a way that’s comfortable. I’m sure it works for some people. Just not me.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have a vague idea of the ending when I start, but I always start from the beginning and let the story develop as I write, I have been trying to work with outlines more these days, but I still veer off course. As for the middle—well, that’s just a mess. I couldn’t imagine starting there, LOL!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I haven’t been writing (books) very long, so I’m not sure how valuable my insights are, but when I tell any story–written or aloud–I start at the beginning and tell it straight through to the end. Of course, sometimes I know what my ending will be, at least generally: obstacles are overcome and the good guys win. Sometimes obstacles are overcome so the couple can live happily ever after. And now and then, both of those things occur. But generally, it’s a beginning, middle, and end process for me, allowing for some happy discoveries and unforeseen side trails along the way, of course. After all, unexpected secondary characters or surprising complications can pop up any time and demand to be included. So beginning to end, for sure, but flexible, too. Interesting post, Harmony!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Harmony asked us to fill in while she’s away, if you don’t me filling in.

      Telling a story chronologically makes sense to us because that’s how we learn stories. And you tell an excellent story. I have no idea how you manage without an outline, but I wouldn’t change my method if I were you. It’s working for you.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks for that lovely comment, Staci. I’m glad you think it’s working so far. (Now if I could just get this new story to work a bit faster, I’d be very happy!) I think my What-if sheets are all the structure I can handle. But who knows? I’m learning new stuff all the time, and it’s possible someday I might try outlining. Doubtful. But possible. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

        Liked by 2 people

      • Aw, thanks, Harmony! And nope, I’m not planning on fixing my method right now. I’m too busy writing, because I have LOTS of stories I want to tell while I still remember what words are. πŸ˜€ Of course, Mark tells me not to worry, as that will be the very last skill I lose. He’s probably right. It’s hard to shut me up. 😯 πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I totally have an end in mind when I write. I must confess, though, in my most recent short story, I started writing toward my planned end, and the story took a left turn. I ended up finishing the story somewhere else entirely!

    Liked by 2 people

    • We’re filling in for Harmony today, who’s still away.

      I love happy accidents! Assuming you’re happy about your story taking a turn, that is. The good news is a short story is easier to correct than a novel, so what would be a huge detour in a novel will only be a small trip in a short. I’m much more willing to experiment in a short than in a novel.

      I hope you liked where you ended up!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This is another of those chicken or egg questions and the answer always depends on the initial idea. Some of them arrive with most of the plot attached, others are vague and need work. But the best ones are those that make you simply pick up the pen and write!

    Liked by 3 people

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