How to Write Effective Beginnings Effective Beginning Strategies

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How to Write Effective Beginnings

Effective Beginning Strategies

  • Once upon
  • a time…..
  • My name is… and I’m going to write about…

Ask questions…

  • “ ‘Where's Papa going with that ax?’ said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.” (from E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web)

State a fact…

  • “There is no lake at Camp Green Lake.” (from Louis Sachar’s Holes)
  • “It’s a funny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful.” (from Roald Dahl’s Matilda)

Use dialogue or quote…

  • “ I am not a pest”, Ramona Quimby told her big sister Beezus. “Then stop acting like a pest,” said Beezus, whose real name was Beatrice. (from Beverly Cleary’s Ramona the Pest)

Invite reader into the scene…

  • “The road that led to Treegap had been trod out long before by a herd of cows who were, to say the least, relaxed.” (from Natalie Babbitt’s Tuck Everlasting)
  • “A sailing ship with two great sidewheels went splashing out of Boston harbor on a voyage around the Horn to San Francisco. Below decks, in the creaking darkness of her cargo hold, there sat eighteen barrels of potatoes. Inside two barrels, side by side, there squatted two stowaways. It was not once upon a time – it was precisely the twenty-seventh day of January in the year 1849. Gold had been discovered in California some twelve months before an now, in a rush, the Gold Rush was on.” (from Sid Fleischman’s By the Great Horn Spoon)

Explain a problem…

  • “And they lived happily ever after. Not the Tillermans. Dicey thought. That wasn’t the way things went for the Tillermans, ever. She wasn’t about to let that get her down. She couldn’t let it get her down- that was what had happened to Momma.” (from Cynthia Voight’s Dicey’s Song)

Use five senses to entice reader…

  • “In the city of Ember, the sky was always dark. The only light came from great flood lamps mounted on the buildings and at the tops of poles in the middle of the larger squares. When the lights were on, they cast a yellowish glow over the streets;” (from Jeanne Duprau’s The City of Ember)

Grab your reader’s attention…

  • “If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book.”  (from Lemony Snicket’s The Bad Beginning: A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1)
  • “My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes and I came back with a dog.” (from Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn Dixie)

How will YOU begin YOUR writing?

Your assignment:

  • Choose two of the following topics to practice writing. Use two different effective beginning strategies.

Lake Tahoe


Marine World


A Famous Person

Outdoor Education

Effective Beginnings:

  • Effective Beginnings:
  • Ask questions
  • State a fact
  • Use dialogue or quote
  • Invite reader into the scene
  • Explain a problem
  • Use five senses to entice reader
  • Writing Topics:
  • Lake Tahoe
  • Disneyland
  • Marine World
  • In-n-Out
  • A Famous Person
  • Outdoor Education

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