Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Starting Your Story Too Late -- Plus It's Release Day For Abducted Life!

One rule of thumb for writers is to start your story at the last possible moment, right before the story takes off. Boring your reader with descriptions of scenery or having the main character doing regular everyday stuff (usually while thinking about how boring and/or terrible their life is) is a sure fire method for convincing the reader put down your book forever. What’s rarely mentioned, however, is that starting too late can be just as bad. 

The other day I was reading a story that suffered from this exact problem. The story began with the heroine willingly walking into what she knew was a trap. Now this can be a perfectly fine way to begin a story, but it turned out that in this case the author had jumped so far into the story that she had to spend an inordinate amount of time explaining everything that had happened prior to the scene in order for the scene to make any sense. 

Every single page had backstory. So much backstory that I kept checking the front cover to be sure I wasn't accidentally reading the second book in the series instead of the first. Besides being terribly confusing, all this explaining really killed the pacing. Needless to say, I didn’t get very far into the book before giving up. 

Why did the writer begin their story here? I don’t know. Perhaps she wanted to begin the story right before the big fight scene in order to capture the reader with action. The problem is, everything that led up to that scene—the mysterious message the main character received that morning telling her that someone would be killed if she didn’t come, the conversation where her paranormal friends told her that they would help her fight when she met up with the bad guys, the difficulties she had finding the designated rendezvous point as the clock was ticking down—were all exciting enough to have been the story’s starting point. There was no reason to begin the story right before the fight.  To be honest, I suspect the real problem was that the author wanted this scene to be a prologue, but if she’d stuck in all the necessary information as real time action instead of giving it to us via backstory, the prologue would have become much too long. 

Choosing your story’s starting point can be a tricky thing. You want to start the story close enough to the inciting incident that only a little backstory is needed to get us through the first chapter, but not so close you have bury us in backstory for the scene to make any sense.

One writer who does know when to start a story is fellow Michigander, Patricia Lynne.  And today she's celebrating the release of her new novel, Abducted Life.  So be sure to drop by her website and wish her congratulations.


Savannah Janowitz’s perfect life was destroyed the night she and her boyfriend vanished without a trace. When she reappears a year later––alone––she’s a shell of her former self. Robbed of her popularity and her boyfriend, she has no memory of what happened to her. Savannah struggles to move forward as strange, new abilities manifest.

Evan Sullivan never gave extra-terrestrials much thought until the night he and Savannah were abducted. While Savannah’s memory was wiped clean, he remembers every horrific detail. Constantly reminded of the experiments that made him less than human, Evan hides in the shadows and watches Savannah rebuild her life without him. But neither can let the other go.

When their paths cross, Savannah and Evan finally see a glimmer of their old lives return. As they face what happened to them, they soon discover they aren’t safe. There’s more to fear than what’s hiding in the stars.

Available for 99cents at Amazon.

About the Author

Patricia Josephine never set out to become a writer. In fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. She was all about art. On a whim, she wrote down a story bouncing in her head. That was the start of it and she hasn't regretted a moment. She writes young adult under the name Patricia Lynne.

Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo, has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow, and an obsession with Doctor Who.

You can find her lurking on Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Wattpad. Find the latest news at her website or sign up for her newsletter. A link to all her books can be found here.


  1. Yes, starting a story at the right place is hard. With fantasies, I was advised by editors to start the story a little before the inciting incident that gets the plot really going. Congrats to Patricia on her new book! It's great to meet another Michigan writer.

  2. Congratulations to Patricia!
    If you have to spend a lot of time explaining it, then it's the wrong spot.

    1. There are so many criteria for where to start your story, it can be hard to find the right place.

  3. I see life didn't butt in with your post today, Ken. Hooray!

    Hubby read a book the other day where he said it felt like it jumped right into the action and he was a bit confused as to why he should care what happens to the characters since he had just met them.

  4. Good luck, Patricia! Best of luck with your new book.

  5. Yep, starting the story in the wrong place can be so frustrating when you're a reader. If I'm asking too many questions right the get-go, it's too late. If I'm bored, it's too early.

    Patricia's book sounds interesting! Congrats to her!

  6. I'm so glad to finally see someone say this. The other side, not to start too early, is repeated over and over again, but rarely does anyone mention that it could start too late. I saw this a few weeks ago, and it ruined the book. There has to be at least a little foundation before taking off.

  7. I sometimes wonder if I have this problem. But usually it's because people wonder, "what the heck is going on?" and not because of too much backstory. :)

  8. I've started a few too soon but never too late. Who wants all that backstory?