So, lately I've been reading LoTR, and I came across an inspiring quote (I know, Tolkien is full of them.)
"It's the job that's never started as takes longest to finish."
-The Fellowship of the Ring
So, I'm not going to ramble on just about how to begin your story. I'm going to ramble on about gathering the guts to start writing.
You know that hesitancy you get when you've been writing and rewriting a story forever, and now you think that it would be better to just start a new story altogether? Chances are, if you can't get this story right, it's a good idea to set it on the back burner awhile. This is not just following the Shiny New Idea: this is moving on to new things when the old isn't improving.
I came to this problem in my own writing. I've been working on the first draft - the first few chapters of the first draft - since middle school. That's about 5 years. Now, I think pure stubborn imagination is what keeps me at the keyboard, and that I really should try and see if I can write a full story out of a different idea. But there's this fear that it'll go nowhere, just like the first idea did.
This isn't one of those fears that go away. Don't we all fear that our ideas will fail, and our story become a useless, unfinished mushpile taking up space on our computer, never to see the proverbial light of day? I think the key to starting something special is to both use this fear and prepare yourself against it.
What I mean is, prepare to fortify yourself. When the voice whispers, "you don't even know how to start," then look at the first sentence/chapter of every book within reach, and figure out for yourself how to puzzle the first few sentences together. When it begins to whisper, "this is beyond salvageable, you'd be better off starting anew," remember that nothing is perfect. There is plenty of time to do major revamping when you're done. If the idea truly isn't going anywhere, after months (or years) of trying, then move on and don't forget.
When I say to use this fear, I mean think of your characters. Perhaps you don't benefit from the little nagging voice in your head, but will your characters? Incorporate your fear of starting or failing into your character. What character wants to immediately walk to their death? Hesitation is a normal part of life, and when you draw on your own fear, your characters are more believable.
My mind works better with lists, so let me summarize:
1. Read the beginnings of other books. Don't copy them, but puzzle together the first few sentences and scenes of your own novel based on what you think works. Want your character to be established before your action? Want the action and the character-building to be intertwined in those first few pages? See how your favorite novels do it. How much is too much, how much is too little?
2. Actually sitting down to write is a major point. Take the gut-wrenching plunge and open a new document. Schedule a little time to get the beginning down. DON'T PROCRASTINATE.
3. Incorporate your fear into the characters. Perhaps your character is on the brink of a decision in the first scene - make sure the fear of starting, failing, or of the consequences is made known. You know how this feels! Your character feels real when their fear is based directly off real fear.
That summarizes my point pretty well. I was going to put a fourth bullet point down, but I don't have one. This post from QueryTracker sums up adversity, and goes along pretty well with this here post on getting over fear.
Have a blessed day and keep writing!