Friday, April 11, 2014

Let's Go Fishing . . . for Story Beginnings (Part 3)

Go here for PART 1
It's time to write some story beginnings! If anyone has a story they are working on, go back and look at the first page or two. Have you "hooked" your reader with one of the 7 techniques?

1. Dialogue
2. Action
3. Thought or Feeling
4. Question
5. Unusual Setting
6. Interesting Character
7. Sound Effect

If so, I'm sure we would all love to read the first few paragraphs of your story. Share! We can "guess the hook" you used (or if we can't find one, maybe help you come up with one). For those of you who do not have a work in progress but still want to participate, here is a writing prompt:



You (or another character) are walking along the beach when you discover a lifeboat that has washed ashore. Using what you’ve learned, begin a story that HOOKS your reader, so they want to keep reading.

Here are examples of how this can be done. I only wrote a couple of sentences. You should write at least a paragraph.

Action:  Samantha saw it first. She tumbled down the side of the sand dune, raced across the beach, and nearly fell into the gray, weather-beaten lifeboat.
Dialogue or Question:   “Come quick!” Samantha squealed when she saw the lifeboat. “Look what last night’s storm washed up.” She waved Julie over and peeked inside the boat. "Wow! What's this?"
Question-Thought-Feeling: Samantha stopped short when she found the lifeboat, half buried in the sand. What’s that? Her eyes widened, and a warm glow spread to her fingertips. It’s all mine, she thought. I found it first, and nobody better take it away!
Sound effect: Crash! The waves tossed the old, abandoned lifeboat against the rocks with a force that splintered the ancient wood.
Unusual setting: The cave was dark, and dripping wet from last night’s high tide. Behind a rock covered with orange and lavender starfish, a half-rotten lifeboat waited. It wasn’t just any lifeboat. This lifeboat had a story to tell—to anyone unlucky enough to discover its hiding place.


44 comments:

  1. Cassie sat down on an old tree stump and drank in the silent beauty around her. The trees were laden heavily with snow and a gentle wind whispered through their branches. The sun shone brightly and reflected with a harsh glare on the snowy world, blinding the eyes of those who looked upon it. A little way off, an old tunnel crossed a frozen stream.
    Cassie breathed in deep and silently wondered, How can anything be so beautiful? So silent and enchanted?
    Just then, a voice rang through the woods, shattering the early-morning silence.
    Cassie, Cassie are you out here?”

    Here's the first paragraph in a book I'm writing!

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    1. Look at those hooks! I see:
      unusual (interesting) setting
      a thought/feeling/question
      and dialogue, which is a preview (i think) to some action about to take place.

      Nicely done, Jesseca!

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    2. Ooo, suspense. :) I like it! Good job, Jesseca!

      -Calamity Rene

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  2. Ok, here's my "hook" found in one of my many soon-to-be-self-published books. :)
    The name of the book is "Alice & Alyssa".
    Alyssa woke with a start. Rubbing her eyes, she glanced at the alarm clock. It was only a little after midnight. What had awakened her?
    She looked quickly over at her window, feeling a cool night breeze. She thought she had closed it before she went to bed. With a shudder, whether from cold or fear, she didn’t know, she glanced down at the yard outside her window as a precaution. Did that shadow move? She shivered in her bathrobe and shut the window securely, locking it.

    Here's another one from the beginning of "The Silver Flower" a book that I have actually finished, and was self-published a couple months ago:
    When they arrived home, they were greeted by their younger sister, Mary. She was a small wisp of a girl. Delicate, some may have called her, but her brothers had a fierce sense of protection over her, and she was the one person other than Old Elliot they knew would keep their secrets.
    “Ye are late.” She said quietly, a small smile on her face. Justin put a finger to his lips, a silent indication that he held a secret. She quickly repeated the same sign back to him, letting him know that she would keep silent on the matter until a safer time. The siblings exchanged knowing smiles, and they walked into their home together.

    What do you think?

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    1. I like both of them. I'm thinking the second one takes place a little bit later in the story? I liked the characters, they were intriguing. :)

      -Calamity Rene

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    2. Let's see . . . the hook for the first story for me was "action" (there's something going on) and maybe a bit of "thought or feeling."
      Did I guess right?

      For the second one I would choose "interesting characters" for sure!
      But like Calamity, it seemed to be the beginning of a later chapter and not the beginning of a book. (yes, new chapters can begin with hooks too!)

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    3. Great guesses! You're quite right.
      Sorry about the second one, it does happen later in the book, about three-fourths of the way through the first chapter.
      The first "hook" from "Alice & Alyssa" is the middle of the second chapter. :)
      I'm glad you liked the characters, I always love creating them. :)

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  3. Okay, here is my "hook" for the beginning of one of my stories, titled Free.

    Free.
    I am Cynthia. And I am free.
    I wasn’t always free. For years I didn’t even know what that word meant. Freedom was an idea of the past, an ideal that didn’t stand with the new Order.

    Freedom was something I heard my parents discuss, a memory they lamented over. Freedom meant to Nick and Emmett a lost future, a reminder of the dreams they'd watched go up in smoke during the Invasion. Freedom was a word I heard Walter, Joy and Marie whisper as they glanced around the room to make sure no one had heard them. Freedom meant a different life, a life we didn’t have.

    I didn’t know I wasn’t free. How could I? I didn’t remember what it was like before the Occupation. I couldn’t imagine the streets without soldiers milling around, rifles slung over their shoulders. Freedom had no meaning to me. What was it, anyways?

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    Replies
    1. Two GREAT hooks, Calamity:
      interesting character and her thoughts/feelings.
      Great start!

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    2. Oooo! I like it! Have you published/self-published this story? Or are you still working on it?

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  4. Wow, girls! Great job all of you!
    Here's the first part of Triple Creek Ranch book 3! :)

    “Mr. Mavrich!”
    Norman Mavrich turned quickly from the corral as the shout and the sound of pounding hooves thundering down the lane alerted him to trouble. “That looks like Elbert Ledford from the Bar X!” he exclaimed to Jim Hardrich, the foreman of Triple Creek Ranch and Lloyd Hearter, the youngest hand. “Wonder what’s gotten him so upset?”
    There was no time for either man to reply before the excited rider had reined in his foam covered horse before them.

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    Replies
    1. Clearly, "action" and "dialogue" Rebekah! Great!

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  5. Those are all great everyone, good job! =D
    Here's the first paragraph in the book I'm writing, what do you think Mrs. M?

    Once again, sixteen year old Amy Elizabeth Hyde was asked by her grandmother to retrieve something from the attic of her old Victorian style mansion. “Why does she only need things from the attic when the butler is gone?” Amy moaned as she trudged up the dark staircase, “She could at least install some lights up here…” Reaching for the door handle, she turned it slowly and allowed it to creak open. Carefully stepping through the doorframe, she let her eyes adjust to the darkness of the attic. “I hope I find that old box of books soon. This room creeps me out.” After a few minutes of fruitless searching, Amy sighed in exasperation, “Why do I always forget to bring a flashlight?”

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    1. Oooooh . . . "creepy" setting for sure as a hook. :-)
      I like it. The only thing I would suggest is that you do not open the first sentence of your story with the "passive" verb form. Always try to use "active." To see what I mean, check out this rewritten first sentence to your story (passive is where the action happens TO the subject. Active is where the subject is doing the action:

      Once again, Amy Elizabeth Hyde's grandmother asked the sixteen-year-old to retrieve something from the attic of her old, Victorian-style mansion.

      Can you see the difference? "was asked by . . ." is always a red flag for passive verb use. Others include:

      "The food was eaten by John" rather than "John ate the food."
      "The children were cared for by their grandmother" rather than "Grandmother cared for the children."

      See what I mean? Avoid passive use at all costs! :-)

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    2. Oh! Okay, Thanks for the help! =D

      Delete
    3. I just worked on the beginning some more. Is this better? Thanks agian! =)

      Once again, Amy Elizabeth Hyde’s grandmother was in want of some book from the attic of her old Victorian style mansion. “Why does she only need things from the attic when the butler is gone?” the sixteen year old moaned as she trudged up the dark staircase, “She could at least install some lights up here…”

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    4. Yes, the passive is gone (hurrah!) But I would just simply say, "Once again, Amy Elizbeth Hyde's grandmother wanted some book . . ." Not sure why you have "in want of." :-)

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    5. Thanks! =D
      I'll change that to "wanted" instead of "in want of". ;)

      Delete
  6. This is the beginning of a story I'm working on about a girl who has just immigrated from Sweden to the USA. It is set in the early 1900's.
    Here goes:
    It was raining, again. Rain, rain, rain. All that it ever did here was rain.
    It wasn't a fresh, spring, refreshing, rain that comes after months and months of icy, stormy, weather. It was a cold, wet, rain that sent shivers up your spine and made you feel miserable all over. That was just how fourteen-year-old Lora Marud felt. Miserable.

    Bitter thoughts swam through Lora’s head as she pounded the unbaked loaf of bread she was kneading.
    I HATE Oregon!!! Why did we have to come here in the first place??

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is a beginning of a story I am working on. It is about a girl who immigrated from Sweden to America. It is set in the early 1900's
    Tell me what you think of it. :-)
    Well here goes:

    It was raining, again. Rain, rain, rain. All that it ever did here was rain.
    It wasn’t a fresh, spring, refreshing, rain that comes after months and months of icy, stormy, weather. It was a cold, wet, rain that sent shivers up your spine and made you feel miserable all over. That was just how fourteen-year-old Lora Marud felt. Miserable.

    Bitter thoughts swam through Lora’s head as she pounded the unbaked loaf of bread she was kneading. I HATE Oregon!!! Why did we have to come here in the first place??

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    Replies
    1. Love it!
      I'd say the "hook" is the unusual setting! Right away I was intrigued by the rain, rain, rain.
      "Must be set in the PNW" I told myself. And right I was. Oregon. :-)
      I can't post without hinting:
      Take the "that" out of the second sentence. You don't need it. :-)

      All it ever did here was rain.

      ~Mrs. M

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    2. You nailed the feelings in this charactor that I felt when we first moved from Phoenix, Arizona to Lebanon, Oregon. The rain was relentless and cold as compaired to once in a great while and warm that I knew before. Great job! It gave me a link to the charactor in the book and leaves me longing for more. Thank you for sharing this blip into your immagination. *smile* Sincerely, Mommy of two growing blessings & so much more!

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    3. Thank you!!!!! I can imagine that would be quite a change of climate!!! Again, thank you for taking the time to comment on my piece.

      Delete
  8. OK. Thanks... I fixed it. How's it now?

    It was raining, again. Rain, rain, rain. All it ever did here was rain.
    It wasn't a fresh, spring, refreshing, rain that comes after months and months of icy, stormy, weather. It was a cold, wet, rain that sent shivers up your spine and made you feel miserable all over. That was just how fourteen-year-old Lora Marud felt. Miserable.

    Bitter thoughts swam through Lora’s head as she pounded the unbaked loaf of bread she was kneading. I HATE Oregon!!! Why did we have to come here in the first place??

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    Replies
    1. That was me who just wrote that comment. :-)

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    2. Oh, yes! And I also like the "question" hook, where you establish right away the setting and the story problem.

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  9. As Ivy Goldman sat on a cliff in southern Florida overlooking the Atlantic Ocean memories good and bad haunted her. She and her twin brother, Andrew, had always loved sitting here and talking about what the future might hold. However, if either of them could have foreseen everything that would happen during the beginning of the year, right after their thirteenth birthday, they probably would not have believed it.


    That's the first paragraph only In the story I a m writing. :)

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    1. I like the story Kaitlin! Just curious, do you happen to live in Washington state?
      ~ JT

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    2. That's so funny! I know a Kaitlin Kessler and we both live in Washington! Wouldn't it be funny if she was actually you?
      ~ JT

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  10. I would say your story hook is: Thought/Feeling.
    And . . . although your character doesn't ask a question, you imply a question by piquing my curiosity about what is going to happen to Ivy and her brother right after their birthday! :-)

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  11. I like your beginning Kaitlin! =D looks like it will be a great story!
    That's kinda funny though, in my story, my two secondary characters are twin brother and sister, their names are Ivy and Aaron Rochester. Yours are Ivy and Andrew Goldman. =) They are almost the same huh? =D Except mine are both 16. ;)

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    1. Thanks!! That's funny... And just a tad bit creepy. Lol. My book has a missing person, a kidnapping, and a murder. Yeah, I'm a bit obsessed with murder mysteries. ;)

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    2. Oh, yikes, that is creepy! Especially because my book has kidnapping in it too! And a missing person! =O
      I love reading murder mysteries, but haven't really written one yet... ;)

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    3. Oh! Creepy.... Yeah, this is the first murder mystery I have written (actually te first book I have actually written down :p ) I always had story ideas rolling around in my was, ad finally decided to write it down. I am about 10,200 words in

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    4. 10,000 words! wow, Kaitlin. You are really churning this story out. Way to go!

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    5. Wow! I love mysteries, so...Be sure to let us know when you publish your book! =D
      My book is about Time Travel. And I've been busy on it as much as you've been busy on yours it looks like! =)
      I've reached 15,000 words.

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    6. I'm now at about 17,200 words. It has been slow coming, and I have to stop myself from going back and editing now. I have heard that the first draft is just supposed to be getting your words down, and to worry about word choice, grammar, etc.. later.

      Also, Mrs. Marlow, I have wondered, I have hopes of getting my story published in the future. How does one go about that? i have heard that it is good to get an agent before trying to get a publisher, but still wonder. That would be a good post!!

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    7. I did write a post about the journey a book takes from beginning to end. Here it is if you want to read it:
      http://circlecadventures.blogspot.com/2014/01/from-pen-to-publisher-part-1.html

      I don't have an agent, but the best thing to do when you are serious about publication is attend a writers conference. In fact, many Christian writers conferences have Teen Tracks for writers just like you and you can learn a LOT.

      Here is one from Colorado:

      http://colorado.writehisanswer.com/

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    8. Actually, it is a 4-part post about publishing. :-)

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  12. Mrs Marlow...
    How old is Justin's clerk, Tim, supposed to be?

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  13. I just wrote another story beginning I'd like to share. :-)

    Thunder clapped and lightning exploded in the night sky. Torrents of rain slapped 15-year-old Jesse Hendricks in the face, but he kept pounding on, each step drawing him closer and closer to the enemy lines. Twigs and branches snagged at his clothes and underground roots seemed to reach up and trip his feet, but Jesse remained moving onward. Nothing was going to stop him; Jesse was not only on a mission for his family, he was on a mission for his country.

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    1. Oh, wow, Anne! This is stupendous! Great showing and great suspense/drama. LOVE IT!

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Let Andi know what you think!