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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > August 2018 > Start strong

Start strong

Jeff VanderMeer, Nebula Award winning author of Annihilation, explains how to suck readers in with your opening, and set up the story that follows

Figuring out the best starting point for your story should be followed up by making sure you’ve included the right material in your beginning, in the right amounts, and with the right emphasis for the story you want to tell. Most stories require some or all of the following basic elements to be present at the beginning:

• A main character or characters, presented from a consistent point of view

• A conflict or problem

• An antagonist (The source of conflict or the problem – a person or, depending on the theme, nature or society, to name just two possibilities; whomever or whatever the main characters are pushing up against, which, put crassly, could be called the ‘villain’ of the piece.)

• A hint or suggestion of a secondary conflict or problem that may form a subplot or additional complication (This is optional, since it may come into focus later in the narrative.)

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About Writing Magazine

In the new issue, you can discover ten ways to make yourself more publishable, and learn how to bounce back from one of the hardest, yet most inevitable experiences for a writer – rejection. Also in August's WM, explore the philosophy of crime and the real Venice with bestselling crime writer Donna Leon in our star interview, check out £13,300 in writing prizes waiting to be won, and keep up to date with all the latest opportunities to get into print.