OPENINGS: ANOTHER ‘HOW-TO’
24 October, 2015 | By Goldie Alexander
I am often asked for hints that help a story become compelling reading. A good introduction always works. Effective introductions function very much like marketing a package. Often you intrigue or lose your reader with your first sentence. The opening words can immediately create a dramatic situation.
Hopefully this happens in one of my YA historical novels “The Youngest Cameleer”: Dearest Mor, I have been busy helping Uncle Kamran look after our camels.
And in this long short story from “My Horrible Cousins and Other Stories”: Stella Tinkerton isn’t too short, too small, too fat or too thin. What makes her stand out from the usual is where she lives.
And in my latest historical fiction for young readers: “My Holocaust Story: Hanna”: Huddled in the rear of the German truck as we lurched over rough roads, my baby sister Ryzia kept up a constant grizzle. My brother Adam crouched on the floor, his eyes closed.
Here is another from an early novel “Bridging the Snowy”: Roan stood quite still. Straight ahead was a bridge. But this bridge was only a few handheld ropes and footholds.
Combining contradictions, setting and conflict seem to work.
You can also begin by using some of the following catchwords that will intrigue the reader.
- apart from
These are all adverbs, words we are told to rarely use. But if used effectively, they can captivate your audience enough to want to read on. What they do is posit a question that leads your reader on. It is said that some openings are so good they can summarise the entire theme of a book in one sentence.
Here are some famous lines from some very famous novels:
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice
“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
“The sky above the port was the colour of television, tuned to a dead channel.” William Gibson, Neuromancer