Story Starters

Stories begin amid instability. The main character’s world is rocked by something that changes the regular order of things. Sometimes, it’s a character’s own actions that cause the instability; other times, it’s the actions of others that require an action on the part of the main character. Here, then, are some situations that should help you get a story into motion.

A telephone call comes in the middle of the night.

Someone confesses.

Someone arrives.

Someone sets out on a journey.

Someone finds something.

Someone hides something.

Someone tells the truth.

Someone asks a favor.

Someone hurts a loved one.

Someone misinterprets the facts.

Someone buys a gift.

Someone gets a gift.

Someone loses something.

Someone steals something.

Someone suspects someone else.

I could go on and on, but this is enough for now. The key to starting a story is to find the inciting event—the thing that happens that requires your main character to make an active response. Complications ensue, tension rises, characters surprise themselves and others, something submerged in character emerges at the end in a way that’s unexpected but also inevitable.


  1. Rhonda Hamm on October 31, 2023 at 4:14 pm

    Love the list. Go on all day😃

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