Once upon a time. East of the sun and west of the moon. Not very far from here but, then again, not very near. Once in the middle of a night that never was and never will be. Back in the days when pigs had bushy tails, apples grew underground and birds made their nests in old men’s beards. Right at the beginning of long ago. There was, there was not, and yet somehow there was…
Beginnings are important. Above are some different ways of starting a story that I like and have used.
They’re not mine though. I didn’t make any of them up. They’ve been used to begin stories for years and years and years. Storytellers have passed them down to me. And here I am, passing them on.
That’s how it is with lots of the ingredients that go into writing and telling stories. Characters, events, jokes, story shapes, bits of dialogue, dramatic moments, beginnings, endings. Much of what I write is put together out of bits and pieces of story that have already been used, and used again.
And it’s good news for writers. Work has already been done for us. Listen and read, and your own stories grow a bit like the seeds of other stories you know.
I always think writers and gardeners have a lot in common!
The British author, Alan Garner, put it this way: “Though we may be the lantern bearers, we are not the lanterns.”