Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Questions about Beginnings (part 2 of 9)

What makes a good beginning? I started thinking about the question of beginnings at a writers conference in 2002. For seventy-five minutes I listened to the instructor teach on first paragraphs for a story or an article. I liked much of what he said; however, he didn’t say enough. He emphasized the need for what he called a hook—a grab-me beginning. At thirty minutes into his presentation, he said, "Now you’re going to write a first paragraph." He gave us an idea that worked for fiction or nonfiction. We had ten minutes to complete the assignment. When several read their pieces aloud, the instructor grinned often because they had grasped what he meant.

Most of them wrote provocative beginnings, but a few of them did more than grab readers’ attention.

My biggest objection to his lecture was not what he taught, but what he didn’t explain. He implied that if writers had a powerful hook, that gimmick was all it took to get an editor to buy. Even though the lecturer had published four books, he missed the purpose of good beginnings. They are more than just gimmicks to grab attention. I'll tell you more in my next blog.

Clever beginnings aren't enough to sustain an article/chapter.


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  2. That was pretty cruel, wasn't it, Jodie? Cec tends to be that way at times. :-)

  3. I am so very sorry! It was not meant to be cruel in any way! I was only joking! Forgive me!

  4. I knew you were joking, Jodie. That's why I responded in such a way. You weren't cruel. Cec was (by leaving us hanging until the next blog). I can say that about him in all honesty because he killed me in his third cozy mystery, Everybody Called Her a Saint. Yes, Cec Murphey is a cruel, cruel man. (Sometimes.)

  5. Is it like this: if you give me a spectacular appetizer, make sure the meal delivers, too?

    I'll be back!


  6. You hook us and then leave us hanging. It's like a movie that's to be continued. Both satisfying and maddening. :-)

  7. Can't wait to find out more, Cec. Thank you for taking time to teach us.


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