View Full Version : The Start to a Story
September 1st, 2002, 04:35 PM
I was wondering how you all like to start out stories?
What are some of your favorite intros from other authors?
I’ve always liked the roundabout way of doing it. By this I mean to start out by talking about something relevant to the story but not actually a history, dialogue, or action of a character/setting.
Three of my favorite short stories that utilize this approach are “Berenice”, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Mystery of Marie Roget” all by E.A. Poe.
I think that it is important for short stories in particular to have an interesting beginning.
Coincidently, most of my favorite beginnings are from short stories written in the first person.
What do you all think on the subject?
September 1st, 2002, 08:05 PM
I liked the beginning to Kipling's "The Man Who Would Be King" because it set the scene up really well. It didn't start with characters but had a little talk about brothers to a king and beggar which was pretty interesting.
Ambrose Beirce (Bierce?) wrote good stories, simple beginnings but pretty descriptive. Check out "The Boarded Window".
That's all I got:)
September 2nd, 2002, 01:16 AM
I prefer a little exposition, a brief overview of the land, then the location of the story - the equivalent of a movie intro where they zoom into the main setting.
September 2nd, 2002, 02:25 AM
I don't like too much detail in the first few pages. I then to go, yes ok, lets get to the action. Some writers don't "hook" you within the first few pages and I find I am then reading to find anything interesting.
I always like the way Bernard Cornwell starts his books....
This is from "Sharpes Company"
"A pale horse seen a mile away at sunrise means the night is over. Sentries can relax, battalions stand down, because the moment for a surprise dawn attack has passed.
But not this day, A grey horse would hardly have been visible at a hundred paces, let alone a mile, and the dawn was shredded with dirty cannon smoke that melded with the snow-clouds"
The moment you read that you know "Sharpe" is in the thick of it again!
September 2nd, 2002, 08:10 AM
It depends entirely on the book of course but I do like a dose of action early on - doesn't have to be fighting mind you, but something to engage me and introduce the odd character, maybe pose a couple of questions, that sort of thing. Anything to make me read on.
Alternatively, a single line can do it. Take Iain Banks' The Crow Road. First line... 'It was the day my grandmother exploded.'
Tell me you wouldn't read on after seeing that...
September 2nd, 2002, 03:30 PM
While it generally depends on the type of story I always like an opening to immediatly immerse the reader in the environment (and that is most certainly not the same thing as gripping the reader). For instance:
"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit..."
This unostentacious, understated beginning is a triumph; but certainly couldn't be said to be gripping (at least in the usual interpretation). It's sedate, whereas most writers trying to produce something to grab the readers attention go for an explosive, mysterious or 'gritty' opening (the latter being a euphomism for violent). However, whilst this falls into none of those three categories it drops the reader directly into a world where living in holes in the ground is perfectly common-place and creatures called hobbits must simply be accepted as facts of life.
In the non-fantasy genre, nobody begins a tale like Dickens.
September 6th, 2002, 12:44 PM
This is the beginning of my main story and i would like everybody to critique it if they could.
"Parry, you mother lovin' son of a pig!" he screamed as Michael slipped past Gabriel's guard and smacked him upside the head with the wooden practice sword. Gabriel swooned and almost lost consciousness when Michael grabbed at him to steady him.
He shook his head in disappointment and didn't notice large man who quietly walked up behind him.
"Steve, how goes the adjustment training, my old friend?"
Steve jumped in surprise then sighed "Well enough my Lord, but they need time to adjust to the new manipulations. They are incredibly fast."
He paused for a moment and slowly spoke again "In fact, now they are probably faster than you." he said, quiet laughter filling his voice, but then he quickly turned somber once more. "But because of their speed they have lost fine control and tend to overbalance. Also, Gabriel has skipped the past three practices. The only way I got him to this one was to tell Michael to remind Gabriel that without training he could hurt himself and others and that he wouldn't be able to play any music insturments without fine motor control training." Steve scowled and said in a gruff voice "I have a pretty damn strong suspicion that it was only the third reason for his coming to practice today!"
Magnus Paen'Dragon, Lord of the Five Isle's and Master of the Paen'Dragon Estates, sighed. Gabriel, as the youngest child, was often spoiled by all members of the large Estate, himself included. He turned to Steve. "The boys will be at every practice," he looked over at Gabriel "all three of them." he emphasized.
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