Friday, June 20, 2014

Opening Lines--More Than Just A Beginning

I love the quote in this poster. We have a general idea of what kind of story we intend to write but it can easily veer off in other directions. More than once, I've noticed a critique at my online writers group that tells the writer that she's totally off the topic or that she has two stories going at the same time. Pick one or the other and go with it. the critter might say. Or write two stories--that would be even better.

You might take some time to look at your previously published stories, articles and essays. Note the opening line and then see where it went from there. Ask yourself three things:

   1.  Was it a good hook?
   2.  Did it guide you?

  3.  Did it make you want to keep writing?

Did your opening line take the story where you intended? Or did you take a few detours along the way and ended up with another story? It can work either way.

Here are the opening lines to 5 of my published stories. Do you think it was easy to move on from each of these sentences? Did any one of them seem to hook you better than the others? Number 3 was the one that I wrote without knowing how to get to the story swirling in my head, but I wrote that line and the story went on, seemingly by itself.

1.  Painful Christmases etch themselves into our hearts and minds, never to be forgotten. (From A Christmas For Julie)

2.  Children have been enchanted by fairy tales penned by the Grimm brothers and Hans Christian Andersen for centuries. (From A True Fairy Tale)

3.  I can do it, Mama. Please let me,” I pleaded.  (From A Message in the Night)

4.  Our heads were fuzzy and our legs like jelly when we left the long, overnight flight from Kansas City to Munich, Germany. (From A Hungarian Hotel in Germany)

5.  Dad couldn't deal with handicapped individuals. (From The Perfect Grandchild)

Give some thought to you opening lines. Then savor each new one you write. As Beatrix Potter said, "There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story."



  1. Hello Nancy I found you via Roan and will be following you I have read some of your posts and you have great tips for a want to be writer like me. Thank you. B

    1. Welcome Buttons! Thank you for signing on.