“In the beginning…;” “Call me Ishmael…;” “To be, or not to be…;” These are some of literature’s most recognizable opening lines to stories and novels; all great novels and stories have them. They hook and entice the reader to want to find out more. An opening will keep the reader wanting to discover what your story is about and want it enough to spend his/her precious time doing so when they could be doing something else.

In his book, “Stein on Writing,” Sol Stein offers some interesting insight in the beginning of a story or novel. “If you don’t capture the reader within the first 3-4 four pages, the reader is at odds with your story and quickly lose interest.”

He suggest:

1.Come right in and excite the reader’s curiosity preferable about a character or a relationship.

2. To introduce a setting.

3. To lend resonance to the story.

He concludes the section on fiction beginnings by stating, “start with a scene that the reader can see… start it as close to its climax as is feasible if your aim is to involve the reader quickly.”

So how do you begin your story? What about Stein’s thoughts about beginnings?

Until next time.


One comment on “Beginnings

  1. Couldn’t agree more – this is really important. I also read in James Scott Bell’s book that a beginning should introduce character, story world, conflict and set the tone. I think as a writer we should think as a reader too, and when I read, I can usually tell within the first few pages if I’ll finish the book or not, so beginnings are uber important!

    Nice post

    ~ Jay

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