Have you ever heard it said that “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”? This phrase is true in many real-life circumstances; when at a job interview, meeting a new person or a person of importance, and even when applying for a college scholarship. Making good first impressions are also a very useful skill in your writing. Have you ever found a book where you read the first paragraph, put the book down and never picked it up again because that first paragraph was so uninteresting? You don’t want your writing to be like that.
So, what type of story beginnings make a good first impression? We’ll go over several ways, the first of them being conflict/action.
- Conflict/Action: Starting your writing with conflict is a great way to pull your reader into the story. With this start you begin your story in the very middle of the conflict, and then later you can tell the reader the events leading up to the conflict.
Example: Axia angrily reared up onto her hind legs, falling with her full weight on the cougar. Her sleek black mane gleamed in the moonlight, and the cougar let out an enraged ‘Cawrow!’ Axia heard a crunch as her hoof landed on the cougar’s left front leg. She backed up, looking at him, ready to attack again. The wildcat howled, and ran off into the night. From behind the dazzlingly fierce mare, her colt gave a frightened whinny. She turned around to comfort the poor thing, who, if it hadn’t been for her mother’s sharp hearing, would have been the wildcat’s feast that night. The panther had been prowling around the stockades, and luckily Axia had attacked just in time to save her colt.
- Descriptive: A descriptive beginning uses lots of colorful words such as taste, touch, smell, seeing and hearing words. Think words like rough, pink and savory. The following is how my book, ‘Lost in Africa’, begins.
Example: As she looked over the edge of the dark brown, wooden canoe, Oak Kinsley smiled. She was a girl of nine with blackish-brown, wavy, shoulder length hair in two braids and sparkling, bright blue eyes. She stood four feet eight inches tall and wore a robin’s-egg-blue dress down to her shins and a hand-embroidered headband her grandmother had made for her.
- Set the Mood: This technique can be used along with either of the above methods; with this technique you use descriptive words etc. to set the mood of this part of the story.
Example of Mood with Conflict/Action: Faith ran through the dark forest as fast as she could. Damp trees surrounded her on either side, the moss hanging off their branches dripped down onto her. She hopped over dirt-filled puddles and piles of musty leaf litter. Arrows from behind shot past her, and she could hear the war whoops of the Native Americans behind her. The air carried the scent of smoke, and the sky blazed orange with the reflection of the town on fire.
I hope that you learned from this article and now know how to write hooking beginnings to your story! If you liked this post, please leave a comment below! Have other ideas for good intros? Please share them!