Writers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for authors, editors, reviewers, professional writers, and aspiring writers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I am not sure which one is correct:

In the beginning of the book


At the beginning of the book

As in the sentence:

In the beginning of the book Marco describes his early life.
share|improve this question

closed as off topic by Standback, Craig Sefton, Ralph Gallagher, StrixVaria, justkt Apr 17 '11 at 12:54

Questions on Writers Stack Exchange are expected to relate to writing, copywriting, publishing or editing within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I think this is one for English.SE. – Standback Apr 16 '11 at 22:28
Ops sorry... what is the difference between the two then? – drozzy Apr 17 '11 at 1:05
No worries. English.SE is for questions about the English language, grammar, vocabulary... And we're for questions on the craft, process, and business of writing. See the first question in our FAQ: writers.stackexchange.com/faq . – Standback Apr 17 '11 at 4:51
Closed, but not moved? May I publically wonder why? – Jürgen A. Erhard Apr 19 '11 at 11:11
I was thinking the same. And downvoted too :-( – drozzy Apr 19 '11 at 14:26

"In the" sounds like it's going on for a while — a chapter or two.

"At the" sounds like a point on a line: he describes everything in one or two paragraphs and then moves on.

Both are grammatically correct, but I think they have slightly different shades of meaning.

share|improve this answer
I'd agree. "In the beginning of the book" could be anywhere in the first couple of chapters. "At the beginning of the book" sounds like within the first chapter, perhaps even the first few paragraphs. – Wayne Apr 17 '11 at 1:44

Either is fine. But they have slightly different... connotations.

"In the beginning" makes most people in the western world think/associate that ancient book called the (Christian) Bible. Which starts out with "In the beginning" ;-)

So, it gets a more epic feel right off the bat than if I started with "At the beginning". "At the beginning" is more modern-sounding (to my ears, anyway).

And "At the beginning" makes me automatically think of a state more than a process ("In" is more neutral that way). So, "At the beginning of our tale, Marco is standing in his workshop" is something I would expect.

Hmm, come to think of it some more, this sounds like a synopsis more than an actual book. Or maybe it's not a question about writing fiction but about writing non-fiction? Or writing non-fiction about fiction? ;-) If so, then my answer is probably way off.

share|improve this answer
Wish you could tag answers... – Jürgen A. Erhard Apr 17 '11 at 11:09

Either is fine to my ear/eyes.

share|improve this answer

I think of things happening in sections of books, not at (which implies a location) sections of books.

I also tried changing it around:

Marco describes his early life in the beginning of the book.

Marco describes his early life at the beginning of the book.

"In" is my choice.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.