As a way to begin a story, “What” is best applied if the priority of your story idea is about a thing or an idea. In the end, every story is about something which sometime, for some reason, is the concern of the characters somewhere. But amongst all these elements, some story ideas wish to explore something or an idea as their main priority. In such a scenario, begin your story with the question “What?”
The story idea could be about an object like a car. A pet, like a dog. An idea like feminism, homosexuality, politics or good old love and war.
Narrowing your focus to the “What” of an Object-inspired story idea make the task of beginning your story less overwhelming.
When you have answered the question of “What” properly, you can easily select the measures and combinations of the remaining four elements (Who, When, Where and Why) that best emphasise the focus and priority of your story – The Object.
Your story idea prioritises “What” (Object) does not mean that you can downplay the other elements. The Object can only come alive as a topical issue and draw the intended attention from your readers if you do well with other elements. This creative writing key aims to help you know where to begin, not to score the element of “What” as more important than the others.
To begin with “What” can be tricky when the Object of the story is not an item but an idea. For example, it would be lame to begin a story about homosexuality with a literature review of the term. But it would be brilliant if you begin such a story with a gay character bound in his Catholic parents’ basement, and an exorcist with a sac of candles, ready to ‘save’ him from his ‘curse’.