Jackie French* says,

‘if you can’t think where to start a story, start … wherever it is most vivid.’


After that you can fill the story out. (And, of course, then you’ll have to rewrite it and polish it.)

But start with the vivid part,

the idea that got you excited about the story in the first place.

We could call this the dessert first approach to writing.


Write about the things that most excite you.

Or maybe ‘excite’ isn’t the right word. Not everything has to be a thriller or an action piece. There are many different kinds of story. I am suggesting that you start by writing about the things that most move you, or fascinate you.

Find your inspiration.


Write that first, and develop the work from there.

Also, as far as is possible, it would be good to put some of the intense things (the exciting, moving, fascinating things) near the front of your story.

Of course, the story has to make sense. You may have to introduce characters and their circumstances. There has been a lot written about plot structure. You’ll find advice on plotting all over the place.

For me, the “dessert first” idea means that you identify your main inspiration, the intense, thrilling, enthralling seed of your story


and start with that.

Inspire your readers too. This means, early in the work,  give the reader a clue about the thing that inspired you.

The seed of a novel might be an event you have imagined


or an abstract idea, like TIME or ABSENCE, or an emotion,

alone on unsplash

or it might be a character.


It could be almost anything. Something made you want to write this story. Hold onto that. If something fascinates you, chances are there are readers out there who are just longing to read about it.

Here’s another thing to take away from this.

If you find you are bored by writing something …

then don’t write it!

If you are bored writing it, do you think the reader will be bored reading it? Do you think they will read on?

If you are bored, then stop. Wait.

Keep your eyes and ears and mind and heart open.

The world is full of strange, amazing, frightening, mad, horrible, wonderful, shocking, inspiring things. In any day, if you are looking for it, there will be something that will catch your attention and stimulate your imagination.


Pick something vivid. Start there.


Thanks to these people for the images

“Moon” on Pixabay. “Dessert” on Pexels

“Lamps” on Pixabay.

“Seed germination” By U.S. Department of Agriculture (Seedling) [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

“Kansas Jayhawks 2008 NCAA Basketball National Champions–Street Party” by Mircea on Flickr

“Alone” on Unsplash.

“Buranovskiye Babushki 2011” on Wikimedia

“Reese trying to catch a fish”by Donnie Ray Jones   on Fickr

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