Simply turning to the first page and reading the opening line brings you into the story. And when you reach that final page and the very last sentence, the story melts away, leaving you content—or perhaps wanting just a bit more. An intriguing beginning and a strong ending act as bookends to any good story.
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While drilling aspiring literati on the subtleties of characterization and plot, few, if any, writing instructors offer lessons on crafting a first line, or even an introductory paragraph—though many agents and editors, if not impressed after a sentence or two, will read no further.
Think of every opening line you write as a pebble tossed down a mountainside: The stone may jolt back and forth within a limited path, building up force, but the trajectory of its initial release largely determines its subsequent route. Never forget that the entire course of a story or novel, like an avalanche, is largely defined within its first seconds.
To craft a compelling story, you must first launch it in the right direction. Here are 10 ways to do it. The first cardinal rule of opening lines is that they should possess most of the individual craft elements that make up the story as a whole.
An opening line should have a distinctive voice, a point of view, a rudimentary plot and some hint of characterization. By the end of the first paragraph, we should also know the setting and conflict, unless there is a particular reason to withhold this information.
This need not lead to elaborate or complex openings. We have a basic plot: And we have a sense of characterization: All of that in eight words. Immediately, we face a series of potential questions: Where else, if anywhere, did she wish to go? Who did want to go to Florida?
A successful opening line raises multiple questions, but not an infinite number. In other words, it carries momentum. Resist the urge to start too early. You might be tempted to begin your narrative before the action actually starts, such as when a character wakes up to what will eventually be a challenging or dramatic day.
Far better to begin at the first moment of large-scale conflict. Remember that small hooks catch more fish than big ones. If you begin writing at the most dramatic or tense moment in your story, you have nowhere to go but downhill.
Similarly, if your hook is extremely strange or misleading, you might have trouble living up to its odd expectations. As a fishing buddy of mine explains, the trick is to use the smallest hook possible to make a catch—and then to pull like crazy in the opposite direction.
Open at a distance and close in. In modern cinema, films commonly begin with the camera focused close up on an object and then draw back panoramically, often to revelatory effect, such as when what appears to be a nude form is actually revealed to be a piece of fruit.
This technique rarely works in prose. Open your story accordingly. Avoid getting ahead of your reader. One of the easiest pitfalls in starting a story is to begin with an opening line that is confusing upon first reading, but that makes perfect sense once the reader learns additional information later in the story.
The problem is that few readers, if confused, will ever make it that far. That technique is often a highly rewarding tool. But the opening should make sense on both levels—with and without knowledge the reader will acquire later. Start with a minor mystery.
This has the instant effect of making the reader and narrator partners in crime. Keep talk to a minimum. One possible way around this is to begin with a single line of dialogue and then to draw back and to offer additional context before proceeding with the rest of the conversation—a rare instance in which starting close up and then providing a panorama sometimes works.
But long sequences of dialogue at the outset of a story usually prove difficult to follow.How to Write Great Story Beginnings Story beginnings are important, and in terms of getting published, they’re the most important part of a story.
Your beginning is where the reader (or editor) decides whether to keep reading. Your beginning also sets the reader's expectations for the story’s middle and ending.
Jan 30, · When I write I write what is on my mind, if the story doesn't make any sense then I go back and change it later. I know how hard it is to start at the beginning since most of my ideas are about the climax or timberdesignmag.com: Resolved.
Jerz > Writing > General Creative Writing Tips [ Poetry | Fiction ].
Writing short stories means beginning as close to the climax as possible — everything else is a distraction. A novel can take a more meandering path, but should still start with a scene that sets the tone for the whole book.
A short story conserves characters and scenes, typically by focusing on just one conflict, and. Write a beginning and an ending. You could write a single sentence for each or a couple of paragraphs, but work on your practice for about fifteen minutes.
When you’re finished, please share your practice in the comments section. This is a good choice for beginning writers because it is the easiest to write. (But if your viewpoint character is too much like you, a first-person story might end up being a too-transparent exercise in wish-fulfillment, or score-settling.).
At the beginning, simple is good simple is God. Your focus should be on the character's emotional and physical details and getting us into that person's head.
If you stop the story to give the reader a guided tour, you may lose them.