Writing Great Story Beginnings: The beginning is the most important part of your story in terms of getting published. Here are tips on writing story beginnings that will hook readers (and editors) and make them want to read more. Please go here to get the scoop:
How can you capture the reader's attention right
away? Here are some strategies to consider:
Make the reader wonder about something.
For example, let's say you mention that your character is terrified of going to
school that day, but you don't say why (yet). The missing information raises a
question in the reader's mind and provokes curiosity. The reader will want to
read on to find an answer to the question.
Start with a problem or conflict.
This could be a small problem; for example, your character is about to miss her
bus home. Even a small problem gives your main character something to do and
creates some activity and momentum right away.
Start at an exciting point in the story.
Don't be afraid to start your story right in the middle of the action. But
provide enough clues to orient your readers and make sure they can follow
Apart from hooking
the reader, your story beginning has some other tasks to accomplish. You don't
have to accomplish these tasks in the very first sentence, but you should take
care of them early on:
Introduce your story's setting.
Does your story take place in 5th Century China? In contemporary working-class
Detroit? In a boarding school for young werewolves? If you don't let your
readers know soon, they are likely to feel disoriented and confused.
Introduce your main character.
In most stories, readers care about the plot because they care about the main
character. The sooner you introduce your main character, the sooner the reader
can develop an emotional relationship with him or her.
Let your reader know what kind of story it
is. Is it a comedy? Horror? Realistic contemporary
fiction? A fantasy with elves and fairies? The reader develops expectations
about your story based on the beginning and is likely to feel disappointed --
even betrayed -- if you switch gears partway through.
Here are some common problems to watch out for as
you’re revising your story beginning:
Starting with background information.
For example, sometimes inexperienced writers start out with little biographies
of their main characters. These story beginnings feel a little bit like
Wikipedia articles about people who don't exist. They are not very interesting
to read. Don't feel like you have to provide all of the information upfront.
You can start your story with a scene or action and gradually weave in
background details when/if they become necessary for the reader's
Starting too early in the story.
If your story seems to take a long time to get interesting, consider starting
right at the interesting point. You might have to lop off a few pages. Don't
feel bad about throwing away part of your draft -- those pages you throw away
are not wasted work. They are part of a necessary process of exploration that
showed you where your story has to go.
Starting a different story.
The creative process often leads writers down unexpected paths. You start out
with a certain story in mind then are surprised at where it leads. As a result,
the story's beginning (even if it seemed perfect when you wrote it) may not be
an ideal fit with the rest of the story. When that happens, ask yourself --
which version of the story do you like better? The version you started out
writing? Or the version you ended up with? Based on your answer to this
question, you know which part of the story you have to rewrite.
Below are a few examples of great story beginnings
written by our Twitter followers. Look out how each of them sets up a scene and
a problem in just a few words. Do they make you want to keep reading?
(by @maryannestahl): It looked dead, but
I began to back away just in case.
(by @africanflourish): They huddle around
the last bundle, listening to the cries of the baby girl wrapped inside.
(by @UWishUWereMe666): She smiles at me.
"I have no intention to punish you or break you." My hands spasm.
"I plan to remake you entirely.
(by @MarliciaF ): Alex measured the
passage of time by the water dripping from the ceiling; it wouldn’t be long
(by @ASingleBell): Nadika was glad to be
officially alive again, but she wished she didn’t have to be alive in the