How to write the beginning of a fantasy short story

Written by lauren vork
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The beginning of any work of fiction is perhaps the most crucial part of the prose; in the opening sentences and paragraphs, an author is charged with the task of both establishing the framework for the tale and gaining the reader's interest. With a fantasy short story, the task of composing the beginning requires an especially careful approach because of the demands of both telling a new story and setting it in an unfamiliar world.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Outline your story. Create a rough summary of what happens in the story, including the details of your fantasy world and any back story necessary for the telling of the tale. Creating the basics of your plot, at least, will help you know how to frame your introduction.

  2. 2

    Write the rest of your story first, if you like. If you're stuck on the beginning part of your story, you may find that it helps to write the rest of the story first and let this completed prose inform you of how the beginning can serve it.

  3. 3

    Decide where to place the opening scene. In good storytelling, the narrative will not necessarily start at the beginning of the story's plot points, but start at a point in the tale where the prose description can introduce the events and characters in the most engaging and concise way. Find the best moment by experimenting with different spots in the story and brainstorming about how well a description of each moment would serve the story's purposes.

  4. 4

    Figure out how to introduce your reader to the world. With any work of fantasy, you need to subtly fill your readers in about important details such as the world's layout, population and magical aspects. Decide which of these details are crucial for understanding the story, and brainstorm ways to introduce them into the opening paragraphs of text in an organic manner.

  5. 5

    Draft your first paragraphs, minus the opening line. Use the opening paragraphs to describe the first actions in the story, while alluding to backstory elements, establishing aspects of character . Take as much time and as many drafts as you need in order to get the right balance of these elements.

    Write a great opening line. Draw your reader into the story with a teasing, compelling opening sentence. With a short fantasy work, a good way to do this is to establish an unusual fact about your world, but refer to it as if the reader is already familiar with the concepts. For example, a story involving talking tea sets could open with a line like, "It all started when the sugar bowl began demanding better accommodations."

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