But why did I bother changing anything? The book was going along okay. I had made a start and was on my way. Why did I decide to go back and change how it started? I did that because a good beginning sets the tone for the entire story. In the beginning, you want to do three things:
- Introduction of character and setting--The beginning introduces the reader to the main character(s) and the setting of the story. This is the part of your story where the reader can get to know whoever the story is about and where it takes place. Perhaps your main character is a boy who lives in New Jersey, or a toad who lives on the third planet orbiting Alpha Centari. Whatever characters and worlds you dream up, the beginning is where your reader meets them.
- Hook 'em--The beginning is also the time to get them interested. You need to start your tale with something exciting--a hook. Starting right in the middle of the action is one good way to get your story off to a rousing start. Another is to begin with an off the wall first sentence. For example, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien starts, "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." This is very simple, but it gets you wondering. A hobbit? What's a hobbit? In fact, it was that very question that prompted Tolkien to write The Hobbit in the first place. Once someone is interested in the story, they'll want to read more.
- Get things moving--Once you've introduced the characters and the setting, and hooked them with some action or a good question, it's time to show them what this story of yours is all about. You should introduce your main character to the problem they'll have to solve, the issue they'll have to tackle or the dragon they'll have to slay. It's time to send them out into the world to do what they have to do. As the story progresses, this problem will grow, but for now the best place to introduce it is in...the introduction!
What books have you read that have great beginnings? Share them in the Comments section below.