Here are two simple rules that will help you determine the most effective starting point in your story's timeline.
Rule #1You’re beginning your story too soon if there is nothing happening in your first chapter.
Read your first chapter and then ask yourself these questions.
1. What is happening?
2. If you take out all the backstory does the scene move forward? If yes, then take out the backstory.
Here's a handy dandy checklist for essential elements for every scene.
Rule #2You’re beginning your story too soon if your opening chapter does not contain any conflict.
Your MC wants something, but they can't get it = conflict
This gets even more exciting if there's a way to get what they want, but it's going to cause a MAJOR dilemma and push the plot forward.
Keep these two rules in mind and your opening will be awesome!
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins is a classic example of a great opening.
If you found this helpful, check out these other posts.
Prologue? The Best Place To Start Your Story.
How To Stop The Middle Of Your Story From Sagging.
How To Write A Nail Biting Climax.
How To Give Your Readers An Unforgettable Ending.