The tricky thing about stories: You have to start somewhere. Though they are continual streams of thought, action, dialogue and description in the mind of the author, the story itself must have a jumping-off point (or jumping-in point). This can be an art form all by itself. Pick the wrong spot and you can either confuse the reader or put them to sleep with plodding (if necessary) detail. (Does anyone really remember what Tolkien said in 50 pages of Hobbit description? We just remember that they’re kind folk and we like them for being odd.)
The starting point for a world seems just as awkward and problematic. Do you spend a few paragraphs describing moss on a boulder, a peculiar fish in the sea, symbols etched artfully into the hilt of a dagger?
Since your world contains your story, it seems reasonable to use that story to describe the world, which then helps inform the story. (A tale about the crunchies in a cat’s litter box probably doesn’t fit in a realm of airlocks and thruster issues.)
So, where the hell do you start?
For 25 years (yes, that long) part of my brain has existed in the fantasy realm of Verisye. Dragons, dwarves, fighting with swords, all that stuff. Once this place was created (in high school, thanks in part to Elmore and Easley paintings and the Dragonlance chronicles) my brain gave it a sort of permanent-resident status. It couldn’t be un-created. (Excavators: Turn about, go bother the neighbor.) Not that I wanted to undo it or give it up in any way. The place was fun. Possibilities were endless, and I was King (or God). For once in his life, Justin had his own set of rules and victories. For an audience of one, it was a pretty sweet show.
As the initial concept expanded (and expanded and expanded) the overall story focused on two people: Valessha and Dirkennion. Theirs is a love story set among extraordinary times. (More on that later.) There’s also the significant problem of an unstoppable enemy (Kalimoraith, a fun villain) and why said bad guy shows up on the doorstep of a rather orderly world. (More to come.)
About three years ago, we had a series of foggy mornings right after Christmas. (I love foggy mornings, when my creative engine leaps right into fifth gear.) So over the course of a week, sitting in my leather chair in the foggy quiet (before the kids rose) I penned the scene outline for a new screenplay. (I think in terms of cinema, so this just made sense to me.)
Immediately, this became the story before the big love story and problems with Kalimoraith and so forth. A title of The Prince of Endless popped up and stuck. It’s like it was all etched into stone tablets and my brain took snapshots.
And how to start this story? Where?
How about two town constables (police) investigating a boat-wreck in a swamp?