5 Places to Start Your Story

Where do you start your novel? I struggle with this, and I’m sure other writers do too.

Most writers are probably aware of the usual advice of what to include in the first five pages. From Nathan Bransford to Steven James (both highly recommended), almost every writer’s blog has some advice about how to start your story.

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Introducing your characters

Introducing characters is an art in itself.

I believe that a character should be described once, in a memorable and vivid way, and as early as the narrative allows. If you’ve done your job well, the reader develops an internal image, and unless it’s absolutely pertinent to the story, this should not be altered, tampered with, or even mentioned again (or it can pull the reader out of the story).

Pen portraits

My approach is to introduce each character in a few lines, or preferably a single sentence, in a way that really cements the character in the reader’s mind. One of my writing buddies called this a Pen Portrait.

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The Power of the Enigmatic Outsider

In the last few years, I’ve read several manuscripts where the writers have misunderstood that the role of their protagonist is split between two characters: the main character and the hero.

The role of the protagonist

Typically the protagonist in a story is the character who:

  • the reader experiences the story through
  • whose choices/actions drive the plot and have the greatest affect on the climax of the story.

Occasionally the story is told through the eyes of a more passive character who is swept up into the world of a more interesting and enigmatic character.

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The Big List of Australian Picture Book Publishers

As an unpublished author, it’s difficult to find someone who will even read your manuscript. The picture book publishing industry is tight, with too many authors and few publishers willing to risk an unknown writer.

So I have compiled a reasonably extensive list of Australian publishers and their status with respect to accepting  unsolicited children’s picture book manuscripts.

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