Start Your Story in the Middle

By Rhonda Strehlow

We’ve been taught to be logical and chronological.  Starting your book in the middle is counter-intuitive. When your start a book it’s tempting to dump the whole backstory into the first few pages. If you’re like me, you just want to get on to the ‘real’ story.

However, that is not what readers are looking for. Readers want to get drawn into the story early on. They want to learn the specifics as they develop throughout the story.

Let me share why you should re-think your opening pages. Many readers will stop reading a book after two or three pages. If they’re not drawn in by then, they haven’t connected to the story line.

How do you make an immediate connection to your reader?  Surprise. Scare. Amaze. Intrigue. Draw in.

If you don’t lure him or her in immediately, they will make snap judgements about your book. Tedious. Boring. Repetitive. Ordinary. You are given surprisingly little time to prove yourself. There are billions of books available to readers, they don’t want to be bored for even a few minutes. Think instant gratification.

Dole out that backstory information throughout the book. Perhaps your protagonist is an introvert with limited social skills. Throughout the story you might drop hints that she is an only child. She was bullied in grade school. Her mother was a stay at home mom. Let your reader make associations. Slow unveiling draws the reader into your story. Let your reader share in those ‘aha’ moments.

What you want the reader to ask when she finishes your book is, “Where can I find other books by this author?”