Posts Tagged ‘style’ Archive

The First Paragraph

I have always had a hard time writing the beginning of stories, mostly because of a conflict I have: I have always been torn between how I want a story to begin and how I think it should begin.

I feel and believe that a first paragraph should be clean and simple.  It should make the audience ask a question and also give the promise that all questions will be answered if the rest of the piece is read.  The question shouldn’t be, ‘what on earth are they trying to write about?’  The writing should be clear, not wordy, so that the reader absolutely understands what is being written.  Know, that I mean the reader understands not the answers to questions raised, but the writing in and of itself.

On the other hand, I have thought a first paragraph should be eloquent and make great use of vocabulary – in a sense, wordy.  It should be interesting – maybe an exciting event or action scene.  It does not have to stand alone.

Nathan Bransford, a writer and past agent, is holding a challenge on his blog.  The challenge is to write a first paragraph, that paragraph is posted in the comments section of the blog entry and very cool prizes are awarded to the winner. Definitely check it out, his blog in general is pretty awesome (www.nathanbransford.com).

This is the paragraph I wrote this morning while straightening my hair:

The soup was poisoned. Henry knew it. He watched as she carefully lifted the spoon to her lips, tasted it with her tongue, and then let the concoction slide down her throat. With childish glee, he wondered how long it would take her to die.

I like this paragraph because it is simple and clean.  It raises great questions (who is Henry and who is the woman? Did Henry poison the woman? Why does someone want her to die?) These are easy questions for the reader to develop and also there is the potential for very interesting answers.  It maybe not be an action sequence, but it still grabs the readers attention.

Anyways, I’m not sure what most people think a first paragraph should be like, but I think I’ll stick to my idea of clean and simple writing.

I also challenge you all to write a paragraph AND post it here – if you feel so inclined!