Posted in action, beginning, better writing, great writing, how to write, The Writer's Toolbox, writing

3 Ways to Make an Engaging Start to a Story, Chapter, or Novel

How does a writer start a story, chapter, or novel to make it engaging and keep the reader interested? After all, a story can be good, but are there are some key elements to making a story, chapter, or novel stand out? There are actually, and this post will address three of them, and I’ll give some examples of really fantastic starting lines I’ve come across in my reading.

Have you read some of the classics (even just dating back a few years ago) where the authors take the time to build a relationship with the reader? The stories start at a leisurely pace and it may take awhile to see any real action. That was nice and great, but unfortunately to be a writer in this day and age you have to forego the hand holding and get right into it. You can do the hand holding stuff, but do it while you are hooking the reader.

1. Start in the Middle of Action

One of the best ways to engage and hook the reader is to start in the middle of some sort of action. If you are starting a story or novel, then it should be bigger and more attention grabbing action.

What sort of action? Ask yourself this question. If you were starting to read a new book or story what would grab your attention?

Maybe your character is in the middle of fighting off a mugger? Or maybe your character is in the middle of a car accident. You can even do a smaller action like maybe a student just dozed off in class and smacked his head against his desk. Or maybe your character is driving down a dark road and the gas light is blinking and there’s not a gas station in sight.

How big the action is isn’t nearly as important as the action itself. Start with that blinking empty fuel tank light, or your character dodging a fist, and go from there. Engagement in this way creates interest, and then the details can be filled out as you continue further into the story.

Here’s an intriguing action line that opens the book The English Assassin by Daniel Silva.

Marguerite Rolfe was digging in her garden because of the secrets she’d found hidden in her husband’s study.

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Posted in short story, writing exercise

Short Story: Shadow

Here is a flash story I wrote from a writing challenge my critique group took part in a while back. I decided to dust it off and post it. This story was written from the writing prompt…You hear a baby crying, but you know you are alone… I didn’t stick strictly with the prompt as you will see when reading the story, but it got the wheels in my head turning and this is what I ended up with. Enjoy!

Shadow

By: Cynthia Dawn Griffin

The wail came from everywhere and nowhere at once. The sound jerked me awake from a dead sleep. My blood froze as I looked about my darkened bedroom. The chilling noise came again, and it propelled me into action despite the fear twisting in my gut. I fumbled for the light by the bed, but my trembling hands refused to cooperate with the switch. I stumbled from my bed.

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