The story opening is the most important part of any story or book, one of the topics I’ll be discussing in my upcoming Seattle writing class, Revising Your Life. If your lead is not interesting, intriguing or entertaining, the reader may never get any further. Therefore, you want to spend as much time as necessary finding a strong lead. Rewrite the lead until it sparkles, presenting a lively, exciting opening to the story.
In my fall Seattle writing class, I’ll discuss the five best ways of opening a story or book: summary, scenic, anecdote, inventory and beginning at the end. Each of these techniques pulls the reader into the story quickly. The type of lead you use in a given story depends on your material and the audience you want to reach. Scenic leads lend themselves to active stories; summary and anecdotal leads often work best with more reflective stories. But there’s no rule about it; go with what works best!
These leads allow you to get to the point of your story quickly and easily. The trick is to make them appealing as well. Writers using summary leads often employ wordplay or humor to liven them up.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Charles Dickens
“The philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once famously observed that “Hell is other people.” And he worked from home. Imagine if he had been one of the millions of us who are forced to navigate the psychic minefields of the modern corporation.”
Summary leads are quite effective, though they are just one strategy for a lead. In my fall Seattle writing class, Revising Your Life, I’ll also discuss how to use scenic leads, anecdotal leads, inventory leads, and starting as the end as strategies for getting a reader interested in your story immediately.