The opening of any novel or short story is the beginning, the middle and the end. If the beginning is not well written, catchy, evocative and doesn’t move the story forward the writer has lost the reader before they started. In many cases, this is not poor writing but simply the reflection of a poorly framed narrative.
What is a properly framed narrative?
The ability of the writer to think beyond the words that go on the paper, both what came before the first sentence and what will come after the last is what defines the well-framed narrative. It is important that each writer, whether in their mind or on paper through an outline, take the time and effort to create the context that came before the current story beginning and the scene that will come after the last sentence. This places the narrative written on paper in a frame of continuous life.
Many times the time to approach the beginning is during a revision. As you begin to edit your story, ask yourself, “What happened just before the first sentence?” And when you approach the last sentence again, “What happens next?” If you can’t answer these questions, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and revise.
Remember, writing can never get worse it can only get better. As you revise, keep these suggestions in mind for getting your material started off the right way.
Dorry Catherine Pease is a freelance writer, writing coach and author of Blueprint for Life, Harper Collins 2006. You can learn more about her by visiting her website at DCtherineWritersWeb.