Totally Random Q: Story Status Quo and Problem Clues

I’ve been listening to Ann M. Martin’s HERE TODAY on CD and I’m been intrigued by how Martin develops the status quo in her story yet also drops hints as to the story problem. For example, in the opening pages, when Doris, the MC’s mom, begins her supermarket sweep one of the onlookers remarks “She’s just so … so cheap.” At that point my ears perked up and I began to suspect that Doris Dingman was different. Now I’m curious to find out how this wacky mom is going to play into our MC’s problem. I’m drawn into the story.

I’m experimenting, in my own novels, with establishing the status quo and at the same time pulling my readers into my story. Sometimes we can follow Ann M. Martin’s pattern and drop hints to an eventual problem and other times we might jump directly into the problem to set the story in motion. In that case, we might have to rely on flashbacks or other tools to allude to “how things were” before the catalyst. Either way, we need to establish what’s different or why the story starts now.

So how do you do it? Do you open your story with normal? Do you drop hints of problems to come? Or do you jump right into the main story problem? Do you use flashbacks? I’d love to hear your thoughts on establishing status quo and pulling in your readers right from the start.

 

2 Comments

  1. I loved HERE TODAY—such wonderful characters! I’m working on a rewrite now and am addressing these very questions you ask. For my character, I need to plug in a few more hints of problems, while keeping the scene active. "Normal" doesn’t exist in the world of my character, but she’s hoping to find it. <BR/><BR/>Welcome to blogging!

  2. And like an angel on my shoulder (or in my Google Reader)Darcy Pattison offers her help with beginnings at http://www.darcypattison.com/revision/opening-chapters/

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