A while back I talked about the importance of getting your readers hooked at the very beginning. You have to make it interesting and exciting in order to get someone to keep reading it. Here’s a great quote from Seize the Story by Victoria Hanley:
“Two thousand three hundred fifty years ago, a Greek man named Aristotle advised playwrights to begin their stories in media res, which means in the middle of the action. Aristotle’s advice was so good it’s still relevant today.”
She’s absolutely right. It is still great advice to begin your story where the action is. Make them unable to put away your book! If you want to know more about writing a beginning go to my post Bitter Beginnings.
It’s great to read how you should write the beginning of your story of course, but I know that it isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Sometimes it can be horrible to think of a beginning and everything you do just seems wrong. If you’re just starting your story, just stick with what you have and go back later. But eventually it’ll be later, and you’ll have to face your beginning again. If you still have no idea how to start your story I suggest one thing: Read.
Books are out there by the millions and they’re like our mentors in writing. Reading a lot of books can really improve your writing skills and for the writers out there who don’t read all that much, I strongly suggest that you start now! By reading books we learn. I learned almost everything I know about writing by
1) reading and studying a lot of books. I figured out how descriptions work and dialogs and how a character should be introduced etc. Without really knowing it I was learning how to write by reading.
2) Writing, writing, writing, writing, writing and writing some more.
Take your ten favorite books and see how they managed to draw you in so that you would read it.
I did it myself and grabbed some books from the shelves with great beginnings.
I hope you’re reading this, Mark. From Pendragon by D.J. MacHale
It’s short, it’s simple. But it works. The reader is immediately drawn into the story. You have no idea what is going on but you get the sense of panic or urgency from the writer who wants Mark to read what he has written. You wonder who Mark is, who the writer is and what’s going on.
Wind howled through the night, carrying a scent that would change the world. From Eragon by Christopher Paolini.
This sentence creates a certain feeling that just got me hooked. The wind howling though the night sounds eerie and you can almost picture it. But it was really “a scent that would change the world” that did it for me because I just had to know what was going on, what the scent was and how and why it would change the world.
All children, except one, grow up. From Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Who is the one who doesn’t grow up? Why doesn’t the child grow up? What will happen if you never get old? I just had to keep reading.
I think these are enough examples. From reading books and even watching movies or series on the television you can learn a lot. Be sure to pay special attention next time you read a book or you watch a movie. See how they introduce the main character, notice that it’s usually right around the time his/her live is going to change. Or does it start in media res? With movies also notice the music and the sounds and light that give every scene a certain feeling that makes you understand and enjoy the story. Notice the different scenes, the way they follow up and notice the characters and how they are portrayed.
Don’t just enjoy a movie or a good book. Learn from it as well! So next time your mother or roommate nags about you claiming the TV again, just tell them that you’re learning and doing research!
Lastly I’d like to remind everyone that if you have a question or some criticism or something to add or just randomly want to say hello, you’re welcome to leave a comment!