Monday, April 19, 2010

Great Beginnings Part 2

Last week, we talked about some possible beginnings for your story. Here are a few more to consider.

Moment of Change: Many novels begin this way, either at the moment of change or just before the change occurs. We’re talking about a major change, something that forces the character to leave his/her safe, every day world. Instant conflict. That’s why this opening is so successful.

Foreshadowing: This type of beginning can be tricky. You have to balance the foreshadowing element with the actual story. If the foreshadowing scene is too long, the reader may not make the link. The same can be said if it’s too short. In both cases, the scene might come across as unnecessary or contrived.

Character Description: This opening is even trickier and is not an excuse for a description dump. Instead, the scene would focus on the character doing something and through that action or dialogue, the reader would learn more about them. Still, whatever they’re doing during this time should have some meaning to the story. Having the main character get dressed and remember the good old days may put a few readers to sleep rather than captivate them.

Catchy First Sentence: There’s nothing like hooking a reader with the first sentence as long as you’re able to follow with a super first paragraph, fantastic first page, and mind-blowing first chapter. The point is the first sentence needs to hook the reader, but the rest of the story has to keep his/her attention. More on this in my next post.

Have you used any of these beginnings? As a reader, do you have a favorite opening type?


  1. I love the moment of change opener. It's always so attention grabbing. I try to use it, but don't always succeed.

  2. I love to start with dialogue....throwing my readers right into the action with the characters. I like books that start out that way.

  3. I used the character description method in my first novel and it seemed to work for the type if story I was telling. I enjoy books that use all those methods as long as they are done well. And I really admire writers who are able to come up with brilliant first lines.

  4. I love the catchy first sentence. It's so hard to do and I'm in awe of writers who do it well.

  5. I prefer starting with the moment of change. If you're crafty, you can slide character description into that.

    Another way to begin is the "bookend" scene, which I suppose is a sort of foreshadowing, although it stretches the definition. The writer starts with a scene set in the future that is gripping, and which usually ends with a cliffhanger, then jumps back in time so the reader is now interested enough in those future events to stick around through the slow build-up set in present day.

  6. I've used a few of those before, and most of them are extremely tricky.

  7. Ooh, moment of change and catchy first sentence are my favorites to do and to read. I especially like to do them together.

    Thanks for the continuation of this great topic!

    Happy Monday, Lynnette!

  8. Yeah, I'm with most folks who've commented and believe that the moment of change is one of the strongest, primarily because if vaults the reader directly into the problem that will--if constructed properly--define the arc of the story to the end.

    With many of the others, it is easy for the initial action of the opening scene to be outside this arc, which makes story development disjointed and hard to follow.

    Great list. Thanks for putting it up.

  9. Here's another for Moment of Change!

  10. I've actually done the foreshadowing route and the moment of change.

  11. Thanks for sharing. It's always interesting to see what everyone prefers.

    Lynnette Labelle