A Strong Beginning

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

I would never have believed when I woke up yesterday morning that I would be dead only twenty-four hours later.

Setting up the characters and story

Lleyton waited in his bedroom.

“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

The door creaked open slowly. A man with an unkept appearance and a gnarled face entered the room, his back hunched over as he pushed a bucket and mop in front of him. He sloshed the mop about in the soapy water and proceeded to wet the floor in an even sweeping motion.

Reflection (of thought)

Peter studied his reflection in the tall, ebony framed mirror. He straightened his black bow tie and smoothed his plain black dinner jacket. He attempted to flatten his dark hair where it stubbornly stood up at the back, but it simply refused to lie flat.

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

It had been seven months since the war ended. The few Black Spider Militants that were still roaming free had gone underground. We had honoured the dead and spent months rebuilding our homes and the surrounding areas, which had been destroyed as a result of Manello’s reign of terror and the fighting that had taken place.

Setting the scene

The dining room denoted wealth. Heavy velvet drapes were drawn over tall narrow windows. Silver and gold plates and goblets adorned antique cabinets. A maid busied herself stoking the large open fire in the corner before disappearing silently out of sight, as though she had never been there. Three young women sat erect at the mahogany dining table, the chandelier that hung from the ceiling casting a dull light upon them.

Creating an atmosphere

A cruel wind whipped violently against the stone walls of the castle. The grey sky carried a sense of foreboding. A lone figure fought against the elements to gain entry through the wooden front doors of Pickerton House.
Straight into the action

Take that!
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.

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