It doesn't matter what your setting is, past, present or future, write what your characters consider to be every day life. Set up a happy family, and we'll care when something happens that threatens is. Set up an oppressive state system, and we'll care when the main character challenges it. Set up an ordinary life, and we'll care when it becomes extraordinary.
A bit like Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi intoning about there being a disturbance in the force, stories shift from the status quo, have some disturbance before settling back into a new status quo (which may be only subtly different from the old status quo, but it will be different).
The instruction to start in the middle of the action is misleading. Yes, stuff needs to happen, but it only has meaning if we know a bit about the people it is happening to.
In retrospect, I should have started A Single to Rome with Natalie coming home with the takeaway, a happy young woman with a successful career and a settled relationship, thinking about moving in with Michael without any hint that he might not welcome her. That way I'd have a) established Natalie as an essentially happy person and b) what she was about to lose. Instead, by starting with Michael dropping his bombshell that he needs space, Natalie was seen from the beginning as a miserable person who, for all we knew, deserved to be dumped.
Hey ho, we live and learn. I won't be making that mistake again - and nor should you after reading this!