I'm having a bit of trouble coming up with the opening scene for a fantasy story I'm writing, about a mousy but passionate girl from a family of entertainers who inherits the entertainer's blood. She is bold, daring, and inspiring when lost in her performances or in battle, but in any social situation she becomes shy and nervous, prone to embarrassing herself and highlighting her failures for often ridiculous reasons.

She feels inadequate despite how talented she is at pretty much everything she does (that does not involve her social skills or highlight how naive she is due to her young age).

Due to her insecurities of feeling like she is not a talented performer she questions whether or not entertainment is the best path for her. She idolizes her family members. Her father was able to use his skills as an entertainer and apply them to combat situations, becoming an extremely unpredictable fighter that became famous for his combat achievements, not his entertainment feats. Her mother did the reverse. Her older brother had no interest in utilizing his performing talents and became known as one of the strongest knights in the army. She desperately searches to find her place in the world just as her family members have all found theirs.

  • 1
    Hi, Shikinoyume, welcome to Writing SE! Do you have a question there, or just looking for general advise?
    – Alexander
    Nov 8, 2018 at 18:49
  • 2
    Welcome to Writing.SE! What exactly are you having trouble with? How do you want us to help you? Please be aware that questions asking what to write are off-topic here, but we can help give you advice on how to write a story with a shy protagonist.
    – F1Krazy
    Nov 8, 2018 at 18:53
  • Oh I had no idea that "what to write" questions weren't allowed, Im just looking for advice on how to start the story from the outline I have. Nov 8, 2018 at 18:57
  • Have a look at the start of Shadow Dawn after Elora leaves the forge and goes out into the world, it may be of some use to you.
    – Ash
    Nov 11, 2018 at 13:32

4 Answers 4


She is likely to have considerable internal dialogue, perhaps between her doubts and her beliefs. She might be sitting in a corner while the social world swirls around her, immersed in her thoughts.

I have a character who, while not shy, periodically becomes very introspective and withdraws from those around him to focus on the issue at hand.

Your character could be trying to get her courage to take the stage, recalling her recent triumphs, but reminded that history need not repeat itself and this could be a disaster.

You could have her thoughts skitter in several directions, doing battle with her fears. Perhaps she will have the courage to perform, perhaps not - but she always does.

Put her in situations that make her uncomfortable and go from there. How would she react if an impresario offered her a place in their troupe?


Put her alone. People are shy of other people, if she is alone she has nothing to be shy about.

Generally you want to open a story on the MC normal, status-quo world. Give her an every day problem to solve, it doesn't matter too much what it is. A power failure makes her late for school/work. Whatever your setting, something unexpected goes wrong for her, when she is alone, and she has to solve it on her own, with nobody else around.

Or in your case, since she is good on stage, have something go wrong there; a prop fails or whatever, but she doesn't break character and completes the scene.

Then your reader gets some insight into who she is, what she is good at, what she is not good at, how she thinks.

In the next scene she can meet a stranger, and then you can show her shyness. Show her strength first, so people will like her as an MC, then show her weakness, a flaw that will endear them.

All of that in the first 10% of the story, btw. After this introduction of your character, then you can get to the "inciting incident", whatever happens to her that really is a plot point, whatever problem or mission she must complete, which is what will drive her on her journey to find herself.


Well, from what I can see, shy characters are more introspective, meaning they reflect inner emotions more than expressing themselves. This means heavy descriptions and less dialogue. Instead of having the character interact with other characters, have her observe from afar until you think she is able to tackle a social convention herself. Or, you could force her into situations by having more outspoken characters approach her.

But whatever you do, be sure to describe the character's thoughts and emotions. She has a tough time with social interactions, so if she's forced into one, have her be bashful, and don't give her a lot of speaking lines. Let her observations do the talking.

Hope this helps, and isn't just me rambling!


If your premise is that she's really good at certain things and awful at others, your opening scene should show both. Without explaining it! Just show. I'd open with a scene of her at her best. Then weave in some of the places where she struggles.

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