How do you start stories?

You may have noticed if you’ve read storytime that my traditional stories start with set phrases such as, “once up on the time before/in the Darkness”, “during the Darkness on the coast of Coricia”. I know other people have similar stock phrases. What are yours?

(Yes, “on the coast of Coricia” is where Sundsele folk stories that are kind of supposed to happen in an indefinite time or place, taken as mythological rather than true history, are supposed to happen. Sadly, coast of Coricia, while a nice vacation destination, does not quite live up the expectations this sets.)

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“So there I was…” followed by something rather unlikely, to serve as a hook. Alternatively: “X was on fire and it wasn’t my fault, shut up.” or variants thereof.

You can also start with the kinda quirky old record scratch followed by “yup, thats me. You are probably wondering how i ended up in this situation”

Some old Jin-Mei folk tales begin with “Back when Tigers used to smoke”. I have no idea how it came to be like that but I find it quite amusing.


“It wasn’t me! I swear, it wasn’t!” You got the wrong guy!”

And variations there of.

Jump straight into the action. No lengthy explanations of the past that led to the current situation, no description of factions, stories, people, locations.

A style vehicle that I liked a lot in a novel series was a seemingly unrelated description of an event that caused the incident that led to the overall story of the entire novel. The author wrote about that incident in length and then suddenly he switched to a completely different area in the story that included the actual people and places where everything takes place.

This only really serves stories intended to be humorous well, I think. But for some reason, it serves those types of stories really well.

Anyway, I suppose how I begin stories depends on the type of story. Given a recollection of events that I was present for, I’d likely start with when it happened. “One time, back in YC114…” for example.

If it’s more of a legend I would still probably start with a frame of reference even if it’s simply something like “One time, long ago…”

Humorous stories are where I’d diverge a bit. I’d still probably give a temporal frame of reference in the second line, but I feel opening with something such as the aforementioned “And there I was…” is nice for comedic effect.

I guess outside of niche cases, it doesn’t change too much. When something happened seems important.

Well, my own stories tend to start with things like ‘Alright, so this one time…’, but I’ve noticed Anna the Elder (not @Anna_Stjornauga, that’s Anna the Younger) tends to like to start them off like this:

“In the far before times, when the Tribes were still young…” or…
“In the Dark times, before our people rose up…”

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Typically, start with phrases to introduce the approximate time, and general location, to set the general scene, and indication of the social standards of the time.
Stock phrases that occur in a lot of stories and tales would be:
“Thousands of years ago, on Amarr Island”, which covers a very wide period of time.
“During the Reclaiming, in Udoria”, which is a setting lasting hundreds of years,
“Hundreds of years ago, in Madirmilire”, which features more modern themes.
And so on.


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