First of all, if you have not registered for ReFoReMo yet, you only have a few days left! Bring your friends and register HERE to be eligible for prizes at the conclusion of ReFoReMo. Our reading list and goals can be found HERE and the low-down on the blog and logistics is HERE. But enough about reminders, let's get to the breakfast of champions!
By Kirsti Call and Carrie Charley Brown
You’ve always heard that first impressions are everything, right? Well, it’s no different for a story. It’s your job to grab the reader right from the start and make a bold statement in some way. If you don’t, you may be risking a pass on your story.
Just to prove how much a beginning can impact you, we’re going to start this post again.
Today we’re going to share some bold beginnings. BUZZZZ! Boring!
Crafting a perfect beginning can be a make or break your chance at getting noticed. Agents are busy! A bad first line can be an early signal that the next part is going to bomb as well.
When was the last time you wished that a child would put a book down? Never! We want kids to be excited about turning the pages!
How do we hook our readers with the first sentence? The beginning of your story guarantees whether someone will keep reading or put it down.
Essentially, the five beginnings above have the same concept, just different approaches. Some are better than others at hooking the reader. Given the subjectivity involved, we're sure some prefer one, while others prefer another. (But we're guessing not many people would say that #2 is the best!)
In order to get you started on the right foot, we’ve selected ten beginnings that will put the wind in your sail! These examples compelled us to keep turning the pages. Here’s to a great beginning!
Mustache Baby by Bridget Heos and Joy Ang
“When Baby Billy was born, his family noticed something odd. He had a mustache.”
A baby with a mustache? What a concept! I want to keep reading!
The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
“One day, Duncan and his crayons were happily coloring together when a strange stack of postcards arrived for him in the mail...”
Oooo... mystery! Who sent the strange stack of postcards? Why? I definitely want to turn the page.
Everyone Love Bacon by Kelly Dipuchchio and Eric Wight
“Everybody loves Bacon. Including Bacon.”
Interesting...Bacon is a character! And he loves himself. I want to keep reading.
Seaver the Weaver by Paul Czajack and The Brothers Hilts:
“In the light of the moon Seaver emerged from his egg.”
Lovely, lyrical and magical! I want to read to find out what happens to Seaver.
Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman and Zachariah Ohora:
“The Bunny family came home to find a bundle outside their door.”
Intrigue! What is the bundle outside the Bunny family’s door?
One Word From Sophia by Jim Averbeck and Yasmeen Ismail
“Sophia’s birthday was coming up, and she had five things on her mind—One True Desire and four problems.”
Immediately, I want to know what her “One True Desire” (a proper noun) and four problems are!
Bridget’s Beret by Tom Lichtenheld
“Bridget was drawn to drawing. She liked to draw as much as other kids liked ice cream.”
I love the play on words and kids will be like: ”As much as ice cream?! Woah!
A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina’s Dream by Kristy Dempsey and Floyd Cooper
“Stars hardly shine in the New York City sky, with the factories spilling out smoke and street lights spreading bright halos round their pin-top faces. It makes it hard to find a star, even harder to make a wish, the one wish that if I could just breathe it out loud to the first star of night, I might be able to believe it true.”
Doesn’t that make you want to know what her wish is?! This main character has captured my heart and the lyrical language is to die for!
The Monstore by Tara Lazar and James Burks
“At the back of Frankensweet’s Candy Shoppe, under the last box of sour gumballs, there’s a trap door. Knock five times fast, hand over a bag of squirmy worms, and you can crawl inside… THE MONSTORE.”
I have to go there! I want to knock and bargain with the monster at the trapdoor. I must see the inside of this magical sounding place. This world has captured me. And…it starts with candy. Kids love candy!
Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine and Kadir Nelson
“Henry Brown wasn’t sure how old he was. Henry was a slave. And slaves weren’t allowed to know their birthdays.”
Henry has my heart right away. When you think about young children, most of them are taught to show their age on their fingers from the time they are one. And here is a child who is not sure how old he is. I must read on to make sure he is taken care of and finds a way to a better life.
When assessing a beginning, ask yourself:
Does the first sentence interest you in a way that you have never encountered?
Does it leave you feeling like you need to read further to find out what happens next?
If you answered yes, then you might be onto something! So, are you ready? Go get those bold beginnings!
Share a beginning that grabs you in the comments below.
Kirsti Call reads, critiques and revises every day. She is a member of various critique groups, and blogs for Writer's Rumpus, Children's Book Academy, and the Institute of Children's Literature. As the published author of The Raindrop Who Couldn't Fall and a homeschool mom, Kirsti coaches revision for children ages 5-18. Her school visits involve interactive writing, singing, and of course, reading for research! Kirsti contributed as a 2015 CYBILS YA Fiction panelist and is proud to be the 2016 ReFoReMo co-coordinator. You can follow her journey at www.kirsticall.com.
Carrie Charley Brown is the founder and co-coordinator of ReFoReMo, the Reading for Research Month blog & challenge. She eats, sleeps, and breathes picture books as a writer, professional critique mentor, and contributor on various blogs such as Writer's Rumpus and the Institute of Children's Literature. Carrie contributed as a 2014/2015 CYBILS fiction picture book panelist and donates a large part of her time to SCBWI North Texas as the Regional Advisor. She also produces kidlit videos and provides marketing services for authors and kidlit organizations. She has taught pre-k, kindergarten, first, and third grades. You can follow her writing journey right here on this site.