The first thing to remember when starting a fire is that a flame needs oxygen to thrive. Make sure the fireplace is free of soot by shoveling out ashes and emptying the ash tray, if one is present. Next, gather a newspaper, dry twigs of various lengths, some small branches (no longer than 18'') and several thicker logs.
Crumple a few single sheets of newspaper and pile them in the middle of the fireplace. Use several branches to build a tepee around this pile. When building the tepee, make sure there is enough space between branches for air to get in. Next, insert multiple twigs under and around the tepee. Light the newspaper in one or two locations. At this point, the fire will begin to burn the newspaper. Place more twigs on the fire, but be careful not to smother the flame. If everything has been done correctly, the fire should catch the twigs and the branches as it gets hot. If the branches do not catch right away, you may lay a couple flat newspaper sheets across the top of the tepee, suggests Jim Dulley in "The Best Ways to Build a Fire." Once the branches have caught and are burning well, move on to building the fire.