When Do I Start?

A question I often have to ask myself when writing a short story is just when do I start the story. “Well, at the beginning, DUH,” you’re probably thinking to yourself, but things often aren’t that simple.

Since I often have a word limit that I can’t go over, that often doesn’t leave me with enough space to set things up, so the story ends up starting somewhere after the characters, setting, situation, etc, have been established.  Oftentimes, though, those details are not all important to the point I’m trying to make in the story, so that’s okay.

Whenever I’m doing a ‘gag’ story, which is fairly often, I really can’t start at ‘the beginning’ (wherever that may be) because starting near the end makes it easier to hide information that is critical to the punch line. The challenge there is making sure that I give the reader enough information so that they understand what is going on.

Start at the beginning?  If it were only always that simple!

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