How to Begin a Story
"The important thing when beginning a story is to start writing. There are probably dozens of tools you can use to get those all-important first words on paper, but none of them are worth as much as a first draft. In other words, don't obsess. Find some words you can live with for the moment and write the story. Then you can come back and search for the perfect opening."
1. Keep a notebook with you at all times. It should be small enough to fit in your pocket.
2. Whenever a good beginning occurs to you, jot it down. You don't need to write more than a sentence or two to get your idea across.
3. When you sit down to write a story, look at all your ideas. See if any of them inspire you.
4. Just start writing. There will be an opportunity to change your story later on. You can rewrite the beginning of your story if you decide it is not up to par.
5. Start with a line of dialogue. By putting your character in the middle of a conversation, you can jump "write" into the story without a long, tedious introduction.
6. If you are writing from the first person, begin with your protagonist making an irrelevant observation. Have him say something idiosyncratic and particular to him. This will allow you to introduce the character as a three-dimensional character and begin to explore his personality from the first page.
7. Jump right into action. A beginning like "the alarms shrieked and an awful plume of acrid smoke shot skyward" may not be the best line for an introspective character piece, but it will get any plot driven story rolling.
8. One way to start is with a line that the reader will not understand immediately. This will get your reader asking questions and make her read more. For example, if you begin with "the Lima Bean Boy was having another null," the reader will want to know who the "Lima Bean Boy" is, what a "null" is, and why he has such a peculiar name. This will get her curious about the story and potentially suck her in.
9. Begin with vertigo. Bombard the reader with colorful, disjointed, jarring images. This beginning works especially well if your narrator is intoxicated, asleep, crazy, under attack, or in the middle of a catastrophe.
10. Begin with an observation of your own which relates to the purpose of your story. If there is something that you want to say, come out and say it. It will get you started writing and, if it is too clumsy and obvious, you can always come back and change it later.