5 Effective Tips to Start Narrative Stories

It’s important to know how to start a narrative story effectively that hooks the readers. The beginning of a story sets the tone for all that follows.

Narrative essays are used to tell a complete story about a personal experience or an imaginative event. But is there a better way in general to start a narrative story?

This article outlines the best five ways to approach narrative storytelling.

What Is a Narrative Story?

A narrative story is told in chronological order, often by a protagonist, representing a proceeding conflict. The protagonist and their struggles to create tension and suspenseful anticipation.

Narrative stories usually follow a storyline. It involves the main character experiencing a series of events that lead to a climax, which ends with a resolution. The stories could either be fictional or non-fictional.

YOUR STORY text in brown color over a pixelated background.
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

5 Effective Tips on How to Start a Narrative Story

The overarching idea of the story is what defines the big picture of a narrative story. A narrative story has an arc that reveals the individual story through an ensemble cast.

These stories allow you to flex your creative muscles and engage the readers. But when you start a story, it’s important to hook the readers with your introduction.

Here are five effective strategies on how to start a narrative story:

1. Begin With Action or Dialogue

When beginning a narrative story, one of the first things you must do is give the reader an idea of what is happening. One effective way of doing this is by beginning with action or dialogue.

After experiencing the initial scene, the reader is more likely to pay attention. You can either begin the story with dialogues or start with the character taking action.

2. Start Your Story With a Question

Pose a question to the audience. Ask a question about the main character or the setting. For example, “What do you do when you’re not dying”? Or “Why does it have to be so dark”?

Starting your story with a question can make for a compelling narrative because the question often provides the character with an interesting dilemma. Moreover, this will help the story progress, develop your characters, and get them to move to the next step.

3. Describe the Setting of the Story

The story has to be set somewhere, but it should also represent what’s happening in the rest of the piece.

The setting is important because this is where the events unfold, and the protagonist defines himself or herself. Start your narrative by detailing the location, the weather, and other things that give your reader an idea of the story’s particular setting.

4. Start With Some Background Information

Keep in mind your setting and background information as you work to craft your story. Shine a light on a character’s past, education, family relationships, or personal preferences.

Setting up the overall perspective of the character allows for a sense of excitement and anticipation to set in. It will help you create a narrative with a strong foundation that readers can sense and connect with.

5. Open With an Introduction From the Main Character

One of the effective ways to start your narrative is by having the main character introduce themselves. This is so that the reader understands who they are and what they feel and think.

The reader will get to know the character a lot better this way. You want to make it as natural as possible, so the reader will see the character as a close friend or someone they know.


Narrative stories can captivate and amaze while creating an emotional connection between the main character and the audience. When you write a narrative story, you’re constructing a story with a gradually increasing tension factor.

It builds into a crescendo and culminates in the payoff. These five tips to getting started with narrative stories are just a few ways to begin more powerfully.

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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