Part 3 of 8
Establish The Context of The Story
You can't start your story in the middle of the climax. Well, you could, but that wouldn't be a great start. It's better to first let your reader know what's going on, or she just won't care. Before you can be effective with your story, you need to set things up. This means you have to introduce the characters, establish settings, and lay out the story. Let the reader know what things are like before the the main action begins. This will help the reader understand how things are different, how things have changed for the main character, and will hopefully help the reader establish feeling for the story.
Let the reader in on your character's world before the main action, before the conflict. What does your main character do for a living, for fun, for pleasure? Where does she live? What are some of the issues she deals with on a day-to-day basis? What are her challenges? Does she have a disability? Is she a caregiver? What are her hopes and dreams? Is she in a relationship? Is she married, have kids, pets? But remember, you want to show us, not tell us about them.
Take the time to address the questions above and jot down complete answers to them. Get to really know and understand who your main character is, or any of your characters for that matter, and make them real. Establish their normal life before you thrust them into turmoil.
Another very important part of your first 50 pages is to establish what your main character's expectations are. Show the reader what her life is like, and what her projected goals may be. However, you are an author, and as such you understand these expectations are going to change completely because you're most likely to throw a wrench into these plans. That's part of the fun of being a novelist. You get to set her up, take her down, and set her up again. Ah, the joy! Ever have something go completely against your plans? You look up at the heavens and wonder at God's sense of humor. Has He passed off this scene of your life to a new apprentice allowing him creative freedom with it? Do you want to scream... Take the damn pen out of his hands and give it to someone who knows what they're doing! I know I have.
Make the reader feel for your main character. Introduce them, show their relationships, reveal their dreams. Then, when she's thrust into sudden chaos and her life is on the brink, your reader will have something to hold onto, to relate to, in order to help her worry about your character and be afraid for her.
And do all this by showing!
Here are some helpful resources:
I hope you found the information here helpful. Be sure to come back soon for PART 4 of the series. Until then, I wish you all the best success in your adventures.