Re: Need Help with Starting a Story

#1
Hey, so I need some help with something. I developed this idea for an adventure-type story, but I'm having trouble with some plot elements Here's the basic synopsis of the story I had in mind.  

A long time ago in the land of Celios, a magic artifact was given by unknown entities of a higher plain. The artifact granted all kinds of wishes and made any desire a reality. At first, the inhabitants of Celios worked together and learned how to share this power. But then, a war over the artifact broke out as different nations began to fight over who should wield its power. Before the war was over or when a victor could rise, the artifact shattered into twelve pieces and scattered to different places across the world. Now, as the different nations are rebuilding themselves, many individuals and groups began to search for the twelve pieces in order to restore the artifact and bring a new beginning to Celios. 


Among the people trying to restore the artifact is Stella Stardust, a sorceress who has heard of the artifact and feels she must restore it before another war can break out, Vincent, a warrior who wants the artifact to track down the soldiers who murdered his family, and Raine, a plant-like creature called a “Roah” who is searching for her long-lost mother. With Stella’s keen insight, Vincent’s strong-will, and Raine’s high spirits, the three band together to locate all twelve pieces and hopefully bring peace back to Celios. Along the way, they encounter many obstacles, like corrupted officials, cults, dangerous creatures, and a strange masked being with ambiguous motives. 


So that's the basic gist of the story I'm going for. What I really need help with, at the moment, is to come up with a beginning that will really draw the readers in and introduce the three main characters. Basically, I need some help developing a strong and interesting hook while giving some exposition without it being an info dump. I have the middle and ending parts figured out, it's just the beginning I'm having trouble with. If you're interested in helping, then please leave a reply or PM me. Thanks! 

Re: Need Help with Starting a Story

#2
I'd suggest introducing the characters one at a time. So start with a single POV character, like Stella, and then have her show off her awesomeness in a solo chapter. Maybe have her find the first piece of the artifact. Then, she needs to discover what it is, and how to get the other pieces, and in doing so makes contact with another adventurer. Or, perhaps she gets in trouble because she's lacking a certain skill, and the person to solve that trouble is the new ally. 

A good way to sneak around infodumps is to have a clueless character that asks questions in character that other characters have to explain. That's why Isekai protagonists, amnesiac protagonists, or rural clueless farm boy protagonists are so common. So have your first POV character be the least knowledgeable one, so (s)he can ask questions in character.

I'd also suggest injecting a bit of mystery into the premise. Perhaps nobody knows about the artifact, and only a few shadowy secret societies are looking for it. Perhaps the POV character discovers a piece by accident, and while investigating it, discovers that it's part of a strange artifact of unknown purpose. Have your first few chapters ask a question that will be answered later in your story. A question like: What is this artifact? Why is it important? Why does Harry Potter have a lightning shaped scar? Why is a powerful wizard like Gandalf afraid of a simple invisibility ring? That sort of thing.

In my own story, I admit that I didn't really make a mysterious premise. My hook is (hopefully) that my character is cool and readers want to see what sort of chaos she'll stir up next. The MC is an artificially created demon, so the only real questions from that premise are: Who created her? Why? and How?

Re: Need Help with Starting a Story

#3
Spectacular Wrote: I'd suggest introducing the characters one at a time. So start with a single POV character, like Stella, and then have her show off her awesomeness in a solo chapter. Maybe have her find the first piece of the artifact. Then, she needs to discover what it is, and how to get the other pieces, and in doing so makes contact with another adventurer. Or, perhaps she gets in trouble because she's lacking a certain skill, and the person to solve that trouble is the new ally. 

A good way to sneak around infodumps is to have a clueless character that asks questions in character that other characters have to explain. That's why Isekai protagonists, amnesiac protagonists, or rural clueless farm boy protagonists are so common. So have your first POV character be the least knowledgeable one, so (s)he can ask questions in character.

I'd also suggest injecting a bit of mystery into the premise. Perhaps nobody knows about the artifact, and only a few shadowy secret societies are looking for it. Perhaps the POV character discovers a piece by accident, and while investigating it, discovers that it's part of a strange artifact of unknown purpose. Have your first few chapters ask a question that will be answered later in your story. A question like: What is this artifact? Why is it important? Why does Harry Potter have a lightning shaped scar? Why is a powerful wizard like Gandalf afraid of a simple invisibility ring? That sort of thing.

In my own story, I admit that I didn't really make a mysterious premise. My hook is (hopefully) that my character is cool and readers want to see what sort of chaos she'll stir up next. The MC is an artificially created demon, so the only real questions from that premise are: Who created her? Why? and How?


OK, sounds like a good idea to give each character their own chapter. One idea I had was that Stella goes to the capital in order to seek a job, but when she does find one she also runs into the other characters, and they're looking for the artifact too. One thing will lead to another and the three band together to locate and find the missing pieces. And I was thinking of maybe making the artifact a myth to the characters in the world. Like some of them believe in the missing piece's existence while others believe there was no artifact to begin with. Would that sound believable? 

Re: Need Help with Starting a Story

#4
How does Stella go from "looking for a job" to "hunting for long-lost dangerous artifact"? why does she pair up with the rest of her party? how does she meet them? Surely there are safer, better paying options available to a skilled sorceress.

You could do something like the Hero's Journey "Call to adventure" beginning. Where the hero is reluctantly dragged away from his/her safe life and sent on an adventure by a wise mentor figure. (Harry Potter, LotR, Star Wars, and many more stories all start like this.) In this case, the Call to Adventure might be getting attacked by monsters, getting trapped in normally safe dungeon, or finding the first artifact piece. Lots of options.

Re: Need Help with Starting a Story

#5
Spectacular Wrote: How does Stella go from "looking for a job" to "hunting for long-lost dangerous artifact"? why does she pair up with the rest of her party? how does she meet them? Surely there are safer, better paying options available to a skilled sorceress.

You could do something like the Hero's Journey "Call to adventure" beginning. Where the hero is reluctantly dragged away from his/her safe life and sent on an adventure by a wise mentor figure. (Harry Potter, LotR, Star Wars, and many more stories all start like this.) In this case, the Call to Adventure might be getting attacked by monsters, getting trapped in normally safe dungeon, or finding the first artifact piece. Lots of options.


Ok, here was my original idea. Stella moves to the capital to look for a place to stay and a job. On her first day though, she notices someone running away from the capital's guards. So she decides to step in and stop the man with her magic. This catches the attention of one of the co-rulers (probably a princess/prince figure). She is summoned to the king, who is told of what Stella has done, is impressed with her skills and decides to give her a job as their personal sorceress. From then on, Stella works in the main castle/building of the capital. Then, she hears word of some maniac (Vincent) going around and killing people and some guards. Stella is ordered to track down the maniac and bring him in. She does so and is rewarded. 

Sometime later, she meets Raine, who has been living with Vincent and is wondering where he is. Stella is tasked with interrogating Vincent. When she does interrogate him, he explains he was delivering his own sense of justice since he takes out criminals in the capital. Not only that, but some royales was responsible for kidnapping his wife and framing him for her disappearance, hence his reason for his hatred among the capital. Stella then meets up with Raine again, who unintentionally explains how she has visions of different locations and random fragments. Stella puts the pieces together and realizes she's talking about the artifact. Stella also puts together that's why Vincent kept Raine around, because she knows where the fragments are but not know where to find them exactly, so he threatens the guards to try to see if they know anything. (The reason Vincent wants the artifact is that he wants to use it to find his wife)

 Stella questions Raine how her visions know the locations of the fragments, to which she replies with "I dunno." After that, Stella makes use of what little information she has and ends up finding the fragment herself. 

Before she could do anything else, she is attacked by the guards who steal the fragment and arrest Stella. By using her magic, she manages to fight off the guards before she can be put in shackles, and she also finds out from them that it was the princess/prince she befriended earlier that gave out the order to arrest her. Stella figures out what's going on with the capital and decides to leave. Raine makes Stella break out Vincent first, to which she reluctantly agrees. From then on, the three form a group, leave the capital, and proceed to locate the remaining 11 fragments. 

Re: Need Help with Starting a Story

#8
you could start the story many years after the war. for instance, when the artifact broke, the energy released from it devastated the world. it also took away the memory of the artifact from all but a select few. and/or the ensuing chaos around the world prevented people from anyone from searching for it.

now in the present day, when very few records of its existence survived, the protagonist stumbles upon some records of it, gathers some likeminded buddies, and starts searching for it(you can give a strong motivation, like bringing someone close back to life or no particular motivation other than her interest).

but things take an unexpected turn (only for her, for readers it might be a cliche, but cliches are sometimes good and necessary for the story) when they find out they are not the only ones after it. and the other party's goals are much more sinister.

you could start the story with a prologue which tells the tale of the artifact(all of it), somewhat exposes its existence but keeps some air of mystery or start directly in the present and expose the history bit by bit through story progression. 

something like that.