Some writers may sit down and begin writing without an outline, character study, or ending, but I have found that without some direction, I end up scrapping a lot of what I write. Everything in a story must be directed to identifying a problem and solving the problem. It is too easy to go off on a tangent if the writer isn’t focused.
A genre helps to narrow the focus. What type of story will I write? A mystery? A romance? An adventure?
Certain tools help to define the story and focus the writer.
Describe the novel in one sentence. That will define the genre.
Start with conflict and tension to raise questions, arouse curiosity, and create the need for resolution. The opening scene should be dramatic and grab the reader’s attention or piqued the curiosity and interest of the reader.
Start with the story you’re telling not the back story. Throw the reader into conflict and let them know characters through their actions.
Define the problem which will define the genre. Give the reader something to wonder about and a sense of where the story is going and what is at stake.
The genre is a romance but why is the romance important to the character now? What is the urgency in falling in love? In Gone With The Wind Scarlett needed to reveal her love to Ashley because he was going to announce his engagement to Melanie.
Avoid explaining to much too soon – don’t be obvious – let the story explain itself.