One of the most common questions my students ask is: “How do I know where my story should start?”
Well, I know how Matthew At The Office finds his beginning. He closes his eyes and throws a dart at the story and wherever it lands – that’s the beginning. That’s why you now have an instinctive urge to flee when Matthew At The Office does that particular big sigh that means he’s about to tell a story.
“WOW IS THAT THE TIME I HAVE TO – UH – WASH MY HAIR – IN THE OFFICE BATHROOM” And there’s just a cloud of dust where you were and the distant sound of the office bathroom door slamming.
So what’s Matthew At The Office missing?
Maybe he didn’t read very many folktales as a kid. Because, friends, folktales have the answer.
Little Red Riding Hood begins with, “Please take these cookies through the woods to your Grandma and don’t talk to the Wolf,” because that’s all we need to know. There’s a girl, a mother, there’s woods, there’s a grandmother and hey, don’t talk to the wolf. That’s it.
How can you apply this to your own true stories?
Ask yourself: “Will the audience still understand the story AND be emotionally invested, if I leave this part out?”
If the answer is yes, cut it.
It really is that easy.
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