One of the things many people, adults and kids alike, struggle with when writing a narrative is the BEGINNING. How to write a killer opening line which will keep readers hooked right until the end of your story. And the opening sentence is just that: a ‘hook’. The tool that sparks curiosity in the reader, making them eager to keep reading what you have written. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to write a dull and drab introduction. But hey, there’s GOOD NEWS. It’s EQUALLY EASY to write a fantastic introduction and it really is quite a painless process. All you need to know are a few simple tricks which will make your narrative essay absolutely sparkle. So, here are my top 5 tips….I personally use each one of them for my different types of writing…whether it is a blog post, article, short story or my bigger works of ficton and non-fiction. (By the way, although I’m primarily a fiction writer, I’ve just finished writing a non fiction book). So here goes:
1) Quote This is my personal favourite, harking back to my school days when I loved starting all my essays with a quotation by a famous person. For example, ‘Mark Twain once said “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.’ This quote would then be followed by my own words linking the quote to the story I was about to tell. It guides the readers gently into the narrative and is an awesome way to lead them to a reflective and thoughtful state.
2) Ask a question Again one of my personal favourites. Begin your narrative by asking the reader something that compels them to pause and reflect on what is being asked. This ensures they are fully tuned into what you are about to tell them. Compare ‘I was the new girl at school and no one wanted to talk to me on my first day’ to ‘Have you ever been completely ignored to a point where you wondered if you were invisible?’ Both sentences are fundamentally saying the same thing. Yet, by turning the core point into a question, the reader instantly puts herself or himself into your shoes and empathises. Once they feel your pain, they’re hooked.
3) The heart of a dramatic event Sometimes, it’s huge fun to simply start at the heart of a scene…at the centre of a dramatic turn of events. This is the complete opposite of the traditional and gentle ‘Once upon a time…’ introduction. For example, instead of saying ‘Once upon a time there was a young man with big dreams. As the years rolled by, he made foolish decisions until one fine day he found himself on the brink of financial ruin’, you could say ‘The blood drained from his face as he stared at the letter. It was all over.’ 4) Onomatopoeia Ah, who can deny the sheer delight of essays that begin with this tool! ‘Achoo! I jumped out of bed, startled. Where had that sound come from? Just then I heard the rustle of light footsteps on the flower bed outside my window.’Onomatopoeia is the creation of words that reflect and resemble sounds from nature.
5) Dialogue I often use this method when I want to introduce my characters or a particular concept at the soonest possible opportunity. For example, in my novel ‘Diary of an Immigrant Bride’, this is how I begin one of my chapters: “So, when do you think you’ll start working?” asked Ravi. The reader immediately gathers that my protagonist is taking her own time finding employment, a fact that doesn’t please her husband.
So, these then are my absolute top 5 secrets of writing a sparkling introduction for your narrative essay, blog post, article or short story. Try out each one of them for different pieces of writing. In my next posts, I’ll be talking about more aspects of creative writing and how to finetune your writing so that it shines and leaps off the page to draw your reader in. Stay tuned!
Until next time….Happy reading….and happy writing! Nim