Jon Gibbs (jongibbs) wrote,
Jon Gibbs

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How do you like to begin your stories?

The other day, literary agent, Nathan Bransford, asked his readers what they thought made for a good first paragraph. Yesterday,[info]jdawson001 asked her blog readers “What is the right beginning anyway?


Not surprisingly, the answers varied. Here’s a sample: Start in media res; pose a question; identify/describe the main character; show tension; introduce an interesting character; set the scene/genre etc.


Such a variety, but which (if any) is the right one?


Any of them might do the job, but none are guaranteed. That’s because we’re not asking ourselves the right question.


Instead of looking at what makes for a good opening paragraph, I think we’d be better served asking ‘What’s its purpose?’ After all, if we know what those first few lines are meant to achieve, we can judge them accordingly.


No matter how we begin our story, I believe the opening should have only one true goal, and that is: Make the reader want to move on to the second paragraph. If it succeeds, then it really doesn’t matter whether we started in media res (Latin for ‘In the middle of events) or dormus nomoreus (not Latin for ‘waking up’).


Personally, I like to start with action, or tension, as opposed to description, but like I said, I don’t think it really matters how we start, provided we pull the reader in.


How about you?


Looking back at all the stories you’ve written, how do you like to begin your stories?



Tags: fiction, writing

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