I hate platitudes – like, really hate platitudes. There was one that I didn’t mind until I saw it hanging over the desk of a boss I couldn’t stand. I hope she got a nasty paper cut when she hung it up.
Do or do not. There is no try. — Yoda
Now I can’t stand that one either. I’m more of a Trekkie anyway. But, that’s not going to stop me from using a variation on it now.
Do, or do not. There is no start. – WR
Your character either does something or gets interrupted while doing something. If the first is the case, just say,
“I drank the glass of water.”
If the second is the case, then use ‘started to.’
“I started to drink the glass of water, but monkeys shot out of my butt, causing the glass to fall and shatter on the floor.”
If you use the words ‘started to,’ I expect there to be an interruption of whatever action you’re character is doing. Period.
This goes for pretty much everything. I’ve seen:
“I started to open the door. When I stepped into the room…”
“She started to unlock the car door. When she was behind the wheel…”
If your friend was telling you a story, and she said, “I had to run to the store. So, I started to back out of the driveway…” Something is going to happen to interrupt that action. Her transmission will fall out, she’ll almost have a heart attack when the neighbor’s kid darts behind her – something is going to happen.
There are exceptions like – “Dad yelled at me again, so I finally started to clean the garage.” But even that can be written better with more specifics. The exceptions are rare, and a writer really should consider carefully.
Before your character ‘starts’ or ‘begins’ something, ask yourself whether they do it, or start doing it. One has expectations attached to it, the other doesn’t.