“You have to call Mom!” she shouted. Tears poured from those amazing blue eyes as her hands picked at the sleeve of my sweater, ran up to my collar, tugged at my clothes with an urgency I wanted to understand, but couldn’t.
“You’re not making any sense,” I said.
“You HAVE to call Mom!” she cried, again. “Tillerman, where is your cell? I can’t find mine. We have to call Mom!”
I swallowed. Was this real or imagined? Abigail was easily riled. Her frantic insistence could mean real need, or it could be over-reaction.
“Start at the beginning,” I said, gently taking her hands into my own, to keep her from picking at my clothes.
And that is how beginning works in storytelling tactics. You bring the reader in at a time that relates to the start of your story. At the beginning. Because entering in the middle is just confusing.
Flashbacks! Oh My!
What about the concept of flashbacks, you’re asking. Yes, they are quite effective. A flashback is a time in the past, it occurs as a lead-up to the present time of the story. The character having the flashback needs to inform the reader of something that happened in the past, something that is relevant to the current events happening in the story. And so, they have a ‘flashback.’ A memory, to that earlier time.
A number of fiction books begin with flashbacks. The character lets the reader know this is happening, either by word or deed. Without that knowledge, the story cannot proceed. The reader is left in the land of confusion. Not a good place for her to be.
I have, of late, found myself in the land of confusion, when reading fiction. A quick check back to the beginning of the chapter, or into the previous chapter, reminds of where I should be, and sometimes it’s my own fault for reading too quickly, not allowing time to absorb the flow of the story. Sometimes, however, it’s the author’s fault and that serves to both annoy and distract me.
I am left wondering both who edited the book, and why the author didn’t connect the dots properly.
In the beginning
Every story, whether fiction or non-fiction, has a beginning. If we’re focused on non-fiction, for now, the beginning may be the day you started the new job you hated, and subsequently left to launch your own business. Is that where you start your story about your new entrepreneurial venture, as you write the book as business card we talk about here at The Lipsticking Society?
It might be.
Maybe the beginning is the day you opened your new business. The excitement. The happiness. The energy. Maybe that’s the way to immediately pull the reader into the story. You can share the reason, the old job you hated so much, in a flashback.
It’s possible the beginning is today. Today, when you woke up, made that commitment to write that story – create that book as business card – and sat at your computer keyboard, completely focused!
“I was never more sure about something than I am today!” you might write. “Like many of you,” you say to the reader, “I found myself in a place of unease. A place of unhappiness. A place of despair! And I knew I had to get out of it!”
Your story, and where it begins, is not for me to decide.
Your book as business card, an investment you make in yourself, a commitment to share with new clients, prospects, and readers the world over, begins wherever you believe it begins. For today, you need to begin by sitting at your computer, or writing longhand (some of us still do that, and then have a typist or VA commit the scratchings to digital because, yes, you must have it in digital format to get it published), with the intention to pour your soul out onto the paper.
Write. Pour. Scratch it out. Make the story live.
Your coach or editor will help you decide where the true beginning of the book is – down the road. Today’s work may or may not be the true beginning of the book. Today’s work serves to tell the story. It may or may not be linear. It may or may not be powerful as a today, tomorrow and next week story. Or, as a yesterday and today, story. The goal is to tell the story to the best of your ability, right now.
The flow will be decided later on.
No matter what the story, how it is told, where it begins or ends, can shift from moment to moment. You need a team of people to help you discover the best flow of your story.
Despite the fact that the story belongs to you, when you commit to sharing it with readers, in a powerful book about your life and how you overcame strife, the story moves away from you and into the hearts of the readers. The story now belongs to them, to the readers who learned from you. It now lives in their souls and you become a voice mentoring them through trials and tribulations. This happens whether they ever ‘meet’ you or not.
They are the class, you are the teacher.
Begin at the beginning…
For those who are new to the writing a book world, the beginning is today. Your story beginning is wherever you feel comfortable starting it. Each story is fluid and subject to change. Each story is like a living thing, a beautiful plant hungering for light and love and water. As the nurturer, it is your duty to provide the light, love and water, each and every day. And, at certain times, you must, perhaps, turn the plant to direct the growth. You must prune and re-plant and re-pot.
Your beginning is a time full of hope and expectation.
But, after that first page of content set to paper, you leave the beginning behind and move into the development phase of your story.
And it is here, in the development of your story that you will begin to understand where to place your beginning for prime effect.
Those of us at The Lipsticking Society are here to work with you on all aspects of your story. Our desire is to work with you on the story in its entirety. And, we know, from experience, that the beginning of any story never leads to an ‘end’. Because you don’t ‘end’… you merely arrive.
Contact us today for a free half hour consultation, to begin to understand whether you’re on the right track for your book as business card.