If you've struggled with how to start a story, or have no problem starting it but find yourself in the middle of a lengthy exposition with no heart-grabber in sight, then it may be time to re-think your strategy. Revision is certainly key, but it can also be its own form of writing. Next time you get stuck or need to add more punch to your work, think outside the box with these three writing exercises: Lights, Camera, and Action!
Shock the reader alongside your character!
Drop your character in a shocking or binding situation just like a deer in headlights! It can still work to backpedal afterwards to hours or days before and bring the reader up to the intense moment if need be. In addition to reeling in the reader with a moment that leaves them wanting to find out all the details of the predicament, it may offer you as the writer a different perspective with which to examine your story and the character's feelings towards the climax. Any character that is human or human-like is not quite black-and-white in their thinking. Grasping their complex emotions and any grey areas in their morals can only strengthen their story.
Try a different angle with your story!
If you don't want to backspace the beautiful description or clever observation you started your first paragraph with, try a different camera angle! If the plot opens with the protagonist witnessing a robbery, they could watch it go down instead through the reflection of a store window. The world would shift, becoming less hazy and landmarks would be on the protagonists opposite side once they turn around from facing the window. A sunny sky spotted via a rain puddle or an argument witnessed through a peephole becomes more intriguing because of the unusual placement and potential for limited or skewed perspective.
Actions go a long way!
It's not wrong that often actions speak louder than words. Starting your story, especially short stories, with an action full of momentum that will keep the reader moving along the rest of the story, can often be the key to a successful hook. Try re-imagining your beginning with engaging dialogue or a physical action, like running, that's full of suspense. Who knows, you may discover something new about your characters in the process!
It can be hard to step away from a work and dare to reorganize it or pick it apart. However, daring to try something out of your comfort zone or to re-imagine beginnings could open up a whole new level of your writing style or stir up a new trail of great ideas. Every success starts with a little unprecedented imagination.