Writing Sci-Fi: Beginnings
Once you have decided which aspect of your story is care about most then it’s a good idea to signal this from the very beginning. Orson Scott Card suggests beginning with a question for the reader. A question does two things: it creates tension and it creates a desire to know the answer.
The beginning must make the reader ask questions that are answered by the stories ending. – Orson Scott Card
Examples from different aspects of story:
- Milieu: Begin with the arrival of a stranger who asks “What makes this place tick?”
- Idea: Begin with a mystery, such as ‘Whodunnit?’ or ‘Why is weird stuff happening?’
- Character: Begin with a character asking ‘How can I change?’
- Event: Begin with a character asking ‘How can I survive this/save the world?’.
Ray Bradbury is good at posing questions in the opening of his short stories. A Sound of Thunder begins with an explorer asking “Does this [time] safari guarantee I come back alive?”. The ending provides a satisying answer– ‘you will come back alive but you’ll wish you hadn’t.’