Start your novel with something happening. Something has changed to cause a shift in what was done the instant before it occurred, and because of this change the world is now a different place. That’s where you start your novel. You begin your book the instant after this disruption of the norm. The change can be good or bad, and it can be a small thing or it can be huge. It’s not the type or amount that matters, only change. And why is this? Why change? Because humans hate change, that’s why. Change disrupts comfort. It makes us modify the way we did things before it occurred. Making changes can be scary and hard work. It requires thought, even. It can turn our peaceful existence upside down. Consequently, it’s the natural place to start a book.
Losing one’s job, a divorce, the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, a change in weather, tearing down the house next door, a new washing machine, winning a contest, finishing a sewing project—even an unexplained crack appearing in the family room wall can cause a disruption that will throw a person or family into a vortex of disruptions that challenges our normally peaceful day-to-day existence. This is your gris; this is the propellant that drives your story forward until its ending.
Let’s take a crack in the family room wall, for instance. What if the crack is being caused because the house is sitting across a fault line, and it’s a harbinger of a mammoth earthquake? Or suppose that the houses in this area were built where there once was a cattle ranch, and the ground underneath is where the rancher buried his cattle after they all died from anthrax. Do you think with this opening you could complete this story? Of course you can. Why don’t you try it and see? You can go many different directions with this. Dark suspense is really hot right now, why not that? Or maybe somehow you turn it into the romance. Ask the big question, “What if?” and go from there.
So, as you can see, there are many ways to begin a story and just as many ways to sustain drama/tension after your beginning. Just add some imagination and away you go. Good luck!!