And Then She Threw Her Drink in My Face

Posted on 30/11/2012 by


Every now and then I remember that you really shouldn’t start a book with the words ‘And then’. But I did. And I wonder if this is one of those ‘know the rules so you can break them’ kind of things or if I’m just being pigheaded because I believe that all stories begin in media res.

Maybe it’s because I want to think of my characters as real, and real people don’t spring into existence at the beginning of an adventure. That’s just one moment. A turning point. A choice. An accident.

Some people approach this by setting the scene, explaining who the characters are, showing you their world. I like to look at the story I’m telling, find the latest possible moment it could begin and then take one more step.*

Sam Brown's "Exploding Dog" artwork. Stick figure man in bright colours and a cape stands by a coffee pot talking to a cloud that has arms and smile. Caption reads: And then I found the coffee and all my super powers came back!


* In Wizards that’s true of the chapters too. Sometimes the new chapter starts only seconds after the previous one. Sometimes it starts at the same time the last one was ending. I think there was a gap of a few minutes once. They were running.