Just about everyone is familiar with this beginning: "In the beginning God created the heavens and earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep . . ." (Genesis 1: 1-2 RSV) In a sense we're playing God when we write a story. We create the characters, plot, and setting, turning a blank page-nothingness-into a compelling story.
Not only is your first scene the first impression of a story, it is the doorway that invites your reader on a journey. First scenes are what determine whether or not your reader is going to follow your characters to the end.
Your beginning must accomplish several things:
Introduce your characters
Establish the place and time the story occurs
Introduce the conflict or point at which change begins.
Your opening sets the tone, mood, situation or problem. It actually begins in the middle of things.
Looking at the first lines of Genesis from a purely literary standpoint, the first lines introduce God as the protagonist. The time and setting (simply) is the moment of Creation, same as the point of change. Before God created the world there was nothing. For the purpose of this illustration from a literary standpoint, Nothing was what happened before the story begins. It starts in medius res-in the middle of things.
Let's look at a few opening lines of other stories.
I could tell the minute I got in the door and dropped my bag, I wasn't staying. "Medley" by Toni Cade Bambara
This blind man, an old friend of my wife's, he was on his way to spend the night. "Cathedral" by Raymond Carver
She told him with a little gesture he had never seen her use before. "Gesturing" by John Updike
Something has already happened before the opening line. The first line is actually the middle of the story. Each story has its own history. The plot is affected by something that happened before the first sentence on the first page. In Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter's book, What If? They describe story beginnings: " . . . think of the story as a straight line with sentence one appearing somewhere beyond the start of the line-ideally near the middle. At some point, most stories or novels dip back into the past, to the beginning of the straight line and catch the reader up on the situation-how and why X has gotten himself into such a pickle with character Y."
Take out an old story, or one you've been working on. Look at the opening scene. As yourself: Does the story have a past? Is the current conflict grounded in the history of the story? If you answer no, then you don't know your story's past well enough.
John Irving said: "Know the story-as much of the story as you can possibly know, if not the whole story-before you commit yourself to the first paragraph. Know the story-the whole story, if possible-before you fall in love with your first sentence, not to mention your first chapter."
About The Author
Rita Marie Keller has written and published numerous short stories, articles, and essays. Her novel, Living in the City was released September 2002 by Booklocker.com, Inc. She founded the Cacoethes Scribendi Creative Writing Workshop in 1999.
You Can Be An Author
"You should write a book." For years, I had been hearing this comment. Writing an entire book seemed completely overwhelming, and so, for a long time, I contented myself with writing short articles. One day, inspiration for an article hit me and, as I started writing, paragraphs began flowing out at an enormous rate. Before I knew it, a rather lengthy piece was developing. It was too long to be an article, so, I decided it would not hurt to try self-publishing a little booklet. Was I ever surprised! The first printing of this 32-page black and white booklet sold out within a week.
Top Ten Tips (Part 2)
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Charles Dickens was born in Portsea, England, in1812. His father was a clerk in the Navy Pay Office,stationed at Portsmouth. Although his job was wellpaid, his father had a weakness for spending money andspent much of his life in chronic bankruptcy.
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Written communication is often the first impression you make on potential customers, business partners, or employers. Because of its significance to your marketing message, it is one of the most important aspects of your business.
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'Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work." -Stephen King
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We've all heard a politician on their soapbox, pushing for some policy change or cleaning up after a scandal. Some will cut out a sharp point, while others leave the audience in bewilderment. You can often thank - or blame - the use of metaphor for the outcome of a speech.
Talent or Toil
As in all endeavors, toil is necessary to succeed and more so in writing. Work or its habit is the mother of talent. A writer must labor over his craft until it becomes strength, and the only way the writer can develop this efficacy is by working at it, sitting at one's desk or computer and writing.
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Everyone has a book inside them, or so the saying goes. But few people get that book out. Often it's because of lack of time. So, how can you get your book written inside a week or two?
Overcome Writers Block with Snake Dancing
Writer's block! Even columnist Dave Berry has it. He admits that at least 30 times a day when writing his humor column, he gets up from his computer to sip his Pepsi to divert his attention when he can't think of what to write. Recently, he reached for the cola and instead found a coiled snake. He tried barbecue tongs to carry it away, but when it landed in his pool, he kept the dance going trying to catch the thing.
Imagine The Imagination
Imagine a three hundred page book was in the author's mind before it was poured out onto the pages of the book.
7 Steps to Successful Publishing
The decision to publish a book is very exciting! It causes the creative juices to flow and the eyes to light up. But wait ? before you begin the publishing process, know about the seven most important steps you need to know before publishing your book. Make sure that you take every step into careful consideration so that your road to success is an easy one:
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Home Business Writing Made Simple
Have you ever written a letter to a friend? Ever written an outline for any project you were about to start? What about a shopping list? If you have, and I imagine most have, you can then write focused, brief, content articles for your online home business.
Why Should You Use Worksheets For Proofreading?
Proofreading worksheets are a great tool to help individuals open their eyes to the mistakes that are commonly made. These are used to help teach a person how to spot mistakes in copy. They are similar to those you got as a child when you were learning to write and read. Sometimes, they can be simple, while other times they are progressively more difficult. It is important to use these worksheets as part of your training to become a qualified proof reader.
Weaving Your Personal Statement Together
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Creating Great Business Correspondence
Obtaining the skills for writing good business correpondence is important; a job seeker needs to send customised job application letters. A secretary needs to send out an official invitation letter. A purchasing assistant may need to prepare an invoice. It does not necessarily imply that you must just have a good standard of English. You should remember that correspondence means to communicate a message. It is a two-way effort between the writer and the receiver.
Common Writing Mistakes
Most books aren't rejected because the stories are"bad." They're rejected because they're not "ready toread." In short, minor stuff like typos, grammar,spelling, etc.
Fight The Fluff!
The first and final rule of quality writing is this: what doesn't strengthen your writing, weakens it.
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