Today I was discussing beginnings on a writers’ forum and I mentioned that I believed the basis of a strong beginning to any story is the ‘hook’. A strong beginning draws your readers into the story and makes them want to continue reading. How the beginning is structured depends a lot on what sort of story you are writing and the genre of the story. Some stories are effective when they start at the end and then go back to the beginning to explain how the characters got to that point. This can be effective as the reader wants to know how the characters ended up there. Some beginnings launch straight into the action so that the reader is thrown right into the middle of the story right from the first few words. Some authors (myself included) use a descriptive passage to start their stories to set the scene or to introduce their main character.
However it is written, the most important part is finding that hook. How are you going to get the readers to want to keep reading? Here are a few of my beginnings where I have tried to hook the reader and the various methods I used:
Starting at the end
Setting up the characters and story
“She’ll be here any second,” he thought to himself.
Lleyton ran his hand through his sleek blonde hair and turned his eyes towards the closed door, willing it to open. He started to become anxious; worried that she would not come at all.
Introducing the main character
Reflection (of thought)
As Peter studied his image reflected in the mirrored glass, he couldn’t help but remember how often he had been compared to his father, Vincent. Peter was the spitting image of his father, everyone had always said so. Peter sighed regretfully. He would give anything for his father to be with him right now, to have him by his side as he celebrated his special day.
Setting the time period
Setting the scene
Creating an atmosphere
Penny Wentworth felt the pain consume her entire body. Her shrill scream echoed around the stone dungeon.
Caroline Fey released the lever and looked down upon the defeated form of Penny with a contemptuous sneer.
“Well girly, you’re not so cocky now are you?” she taunted.