Beginning With “When?”

As a way to begin a story, “When” is best applied if the priority of your story idea is about a particular time in history. In the end, every story has a timeline when what happened, happened to the people it happened to, where it happened, and for the reason it happened. But amongst all these elements, some story ideas wish to explore a moment as its main priority. In such a scenario, begin your story with the question “When?”

Narrowing your focus to the “When” of Time-inspired story idea makes the task of beginning your story less overwhelming.

When you have answered the question of “When” properly, you can easily select the measures and combinations of the remaining four elements (Who, What, Where and Why) that best emphasise the focus and priority of your story – The Time.


Your story idea prioritises “When” (Time) does not mean that you can downplay the other elements. The Time of your story only makes sense when you have defined it with proper development of the other elements. The point of this creative writing key is to help you know where to begin your story idea, not to score the element of “When” as more important than the rest.


A story about 2020 and how it is unique from other years could begin thus:

“If anyone had told Conrad, the quick-tempered aerophobic pilot, that a time would come when he would beg for the sky, he would’ve shot the person right in the face.”

Now, even though the above first sentence named a character and went ahead to say that he is a pilot that fears flying, it is not lost that the story’s focus is about a particular moment in time. The fact that it intentionally refuses to mention the Time in question even draws more curiosity to it.

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