I’m taking a really interesting class with a woman named Maxine Clair about how to be present in your life and writing about it.

This week we learned about narrative writing and how to start your story. We were taught five ways to begin a narrative story that I thought would be useful to the Write Practice community.

narrative writing

How to Start Your Story

Some say starting something is the hardest part—whether it be a workout routine or a piece of art. And really, putting our pens to paper is one of the most difficult things we have to do as writers. We have our story-line all thought out, but how do we begin?

These five tips will help you put the hardest part behind you and start your story:

  1. Imply an opposite. Show a routine about to be upset, pattern to be disrupted.
  2. Establish setting. Focus on the tone and situation to ground your reader in the setting in those early paragraphs.
  3. Introduce the main character or narrator. Who is she? What is she wearing? Where is she coming from?
  4. Create mystery and suspense. In other words, treat the narrative like a bound thing made up of woven macramé that is about to be loosened and laid out.  Dun dun!
  5. State the theme. Use imagery, metaphors or similes to convey something.  Imply what the narrative is about, but don’t announce it.

Begin another way. There are endless ways to start a memoir, novel, or other narrative! Don’t feel limited to these five.

What is your process to start a narrative? Let us know in the comments.


Take fifteen minutes to begin telling a story using one of these five techniques. Share in the comments section.

Monica M. Clark
Monica is a lawyer trying to knock out her first novel. She lives in D.C. but is still a New Yorker. You can follow her on her blog or on Twitter (@monicamclark).
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