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 Post subject: Good Beginnings...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2003 1:06 am 
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Once upon a time... has always been the best way to start a story, especially when you don't know how to begin it. The hardest part of writing a story, is always the beginning. Here are some examples of how some very notable works I read began. They describe action, emotion and atmosphere, and most are short but there are some which are long winded. (All beginnings are reproduced till the first period.)

Enjoy!!! :D


"Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents," mumbled Jo, lying on the rug.
-- Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott, 1868.

I want to die at a hundred years old with an American flag on my back and the star of Texas on my helmet, after screaming down an Alpine descent on a bicycle at 75 miles per hour.
-- It's Not About The Bike - My Journey Back To Life, Lance Armstrong, 2000.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
-- Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, 1813.

It was morning, and the new sun sparkled gold across the ripples of a gentle sea.
-- Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach, 1970.

My truth has been a long time refining.
-- Running From Safety, Richard Bach, 1998.

The problem was the door.
-- Out Of My Mind, Richard Bach, 1999.

We think, sometimes, there's not a dragon left.
-- The Bridge Across Forever, Richard Bach, 1984.

All children, except one, grow up.
-- Peter Pan, by J.M. Barie, 1911.

Like the brief doomed flare of exploding suns that registers dimly on blind men's eyes, the beginning of the horror passed almost unnoticed; in the shriek of what followed, in fact, was forgotten and perhaps not connected to the horror at all.
-- The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty, 1971.

1801--I have just returned from a visit to my landlord--the solitary neighbor that I shall be troubled with.
-- Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë, 1847.

There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.
-- Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë, 1847.

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, 'and what is the use of a book,' thought Alice, 'without pictures or conversation?'
-- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, 1866.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all doing direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
-- A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens, 1859.

Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the mornings, save upon those not infrequent occasions when he was up all night, was seated at the breakfast table.
-- The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1902.

All the beasts in Howling Forest were safe in their caves, nests, and burrows.
-- The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende, 1979.

"The marvelous thing is that it's painless," he said.
-- The Snows of Kilimanjaro, by Ernest Hemingway, 1927.

Maybe someday I'll have kids of my own.
-- Pay It Forward, Catherine Ryan Hyde, 2000.

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.
-- To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, 1960.

I am going to pack my two shirts with my other socks and my best suit in the litle blue cloth my mother used to tie round her hair when she did the house, and I am going from the Valley.
-- How Green Was My Valley, by Richard Llewellyn, 1940.

Call me Ishmael.
-- Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, 1851.

There is a lovely road that runs from Ixapo into the hills.
-- Cry the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton.

Once when I was six years old I saw a magnificent picture in a book, called Stories From Nature, about the primeval forest.
-- The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 1943.

Kino awakened in the near dark.
-- The Pearl, by John Steinbeck, 1945.

I will begin the story of my adventures with a certain morning early in the month of june, the year of grace 1751, when I took the key for the last time out of the door of my father's house.
-- Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson, 1886.

He sat before the mirror of the second-floor bedroom sketching his lean cheeks with their high bone ridges, the flat broad forehead, and ears to far back on the head, the dark hair curling forward in thatches, the ambercoloured eyeswide-set but heavy-lidded.
-- The Agony And The Ecstacy, Irving Stone, 1961.

You better not never tell nobody but God.
-- The Color Purple, by Alice Walker, 1982.

The charachteristic features of Indian culture have long been the search for ultimate verities and the concomitant disciple-guru relationship.
-- The Autobiography Of A Yogi, Paramhansa Yogananda, 1951.

-

much love, light and laughter,
ananya.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2003 11:53 am 
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As a budding writer myself (although it's probably going to be a long while before I get anything published!), I have always tried to start my stories with either interesting quotes, sudden actions and things that will grab the reader's attention.

I have read many of these books that you listed below and I did like the fact that the authors did not start off with a monotonous, boring opener... like, 'Once upon a time', which is very acceptable for fairy tales or tales for children, but hardly a way to start a novel.

Is it not true that the first two pages of the book are the most important pages, as that is basically what you get to grab someone's attention?

Anyways... just my contribution. Thanks for pointing out that the beginning of a story is the hardest thing to write... this is so true!

Writerstrix <><


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 Post subject: To Kill a Mockingbird
PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2003 12:56 pm 
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I always seem to recall the beginning of To Kill a Mockingbird By Harper Lee:

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. When it healed, and Jem's fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about his injury. His left arm was somewhat shorter than his right; when he stood or walked, the back of his hand was at right angles to his body, his thumb parallel to his thigh. He couldn't have cared less, so long as he could pass and punt.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2003 1:07 pm 
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Indeed... it is a very good beginning of a book, because it captures your attention, makes you want to know how his arm was broken, makes you wonder why the author chose to start the story this way...

In my writing, I like to make the readers guess what I'm thinking while I write... I always carefully choose the beginnings to make sure that not only do they grab the attention of the reader, but they also start to ask questions... for example, I started out one story with the following quote:

The girl paused momentarily, her heart in her throat. In the distance she could hear the sounds of her pursuer drawing closer to her and knew she had to get out of there fast. She took a deep breath and once again began running.
"I have to get to a well-populated place..." the girl thought as she ran. "Then I'll be able to lose whoever it is that's following me."


I'm not sure about others, but if I read that in a book, I would definitely want the questions I have answered... so I would read on... it's always the best when a writer is able to make the reader ask questions.

Just an opinion, of course :)

Writerstrix <><


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2003 3:01 pm 
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Now that is certainly an effective beginning!!

The girl paused momentarily, her heart in her throat.

What a sentence to begin with! Her heart in her throat. You have captured that feeling marvelously.

In the distance she could hear the sounds of her pursuer drawing closer to her and knew she had to get out of there fast.

You create suspense very efficiently, and you establish a wonderful atmosphere.

Your right, If I read that in a book, there is zero possibility of me putting the book down. Maybe if there was a fire. :wink:

Here is one of the beginings of a short story I wrote. I know for one sentence it is way too long, but I just didn't want to cut it down.

As the ice-cold wind travels precipitously over the abandoned heath, I make my first brave step to that enormous gate, leading into that settlement of those abandoned souls.

Hey! I know it's not too good, but I like it for some strange reason. It was in a short story of mine, that I wrote a couple of years back. I lost my copy of it, since my computer crashed (bigtime) but I can always recall that sentence.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2003 4:08 pm 
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I'm fond of the beginning I've only just about read in Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina:

"All happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

-fish are quick!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2003 7:51 am 
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I must be very singular in this opnion but I find that it is easier to start then to finish. I must have started at least a hundred diffrent stories/poems (some of which are of doubtable quality.) and there are only a select few that I have finished.

But back to the main topic beginings everyone agree are important I think so too. When I write I try to convey the mood and the atmosphere which you should set up right away because well if there is no mood nor atmosphere it's pretty boring!

Here is an example of what I like start with. (If you don't mind my quoting myself that is...):

There was a boy who did not sleep.

(in the ironically named prose "The Boy Who did Not Sleep".)

I like to repeat the title (in prose or poetry) at the begining and at the end because I think there is a finality to it of courtse it is not alway appropiriate so it's not something I do often and if I did do it often then it would become boring and I hate things that are boring!!!
Anyway my faverotie begining was from the book " The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" It went like this:

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashonable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded sun.

I liked it because well... I don'T know I just did it grabbed my attention and it's an interesting way to describe our Galaxy don't you think?

Anyways that's allI have to say.Hope I didn't annoy you with my rambling!^^;

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2003 11:57 pm 
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I have to agree with Shadow's Echo on the point that it is easier to start than to finish. I've started so many things that I put aside and said I would finish later (yeah, right). I also have to agree with Writerstrix in that the first two pages are not necessarily the most important. The most important part of a book varies, and the beginning is basically an advertisement for how the rest of the book will (hopefully) be. But anyway, here are some of my favorite first lines:


"Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show."
-David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

"Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again."
-Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

"You don't know me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no mattter."
-The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

"During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher.
-The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe

"Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much."
-Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2003 9:42 am 
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For my A Level Literature we are/have been studying Ian McEwan's Enduring Love, which has an excellent written first chapter that really demonstrates his skills as a writer. Interestingly, it could quite conceivably be the climax of any novel by reads like a gothic horror anecdote.

-fish are quick!

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