Friday, December 20, 2013

Five Ways to Start Strong in Your Writing

A good story or article is only as strong as its beginning.

Let's face it, what are the chances that someone will continue reading your work if the beginning is long, dry, and boring? Not good.
The beginning of your story is the most important part. It is the factor that helps your reader determine whether he will keep reading or whether he will close the book and put it back on the shelf.

Below you will find five ways to strengthen your story beginning.


1. You must have a slant.
One mistake many writers make is that they try to write everything about their subject. Not only is that impossible, but it also gives the story or article no original slant. There are probably hundreds of articles on the same subject as yours. Why should the reader pick yours? Narrow your subject down to one main aspect. Don't write an article about Christmas. Write an article on the story behind the Christmas wreath. The tighter your focus, the better your story will be.

2. You must have a lead.
A lead is a sentence, paragraph, or number of paragraphs that hook your reader, ensuring that he will continue reading. The length of your lead depends on the length of your article or story. In shorter pieces, you don't have the time or space to waste words. Hook your reader, and then carry on with the story. One of the best ways to hook your reader is to start in the middle of your story. This evokes curiosity in the reader. However you choose to work your lead, make it strong and emotional. Convince your reader to care.

3. You must deliver.
In your lead, you promised your readers answers to certain questions or guided them along a particular train of thought. Follow through with what you started. Don't cheat the reader by attracting them to your piece with exaggerations or false claims. Finish what you start and be sure to answer any questions that you raised in your lead.

4. You must keep a consistent tone.
Every article or story will carry its own tone or emotion. Some are funny and lighthearted. Some are heavy and dark. Some are evil and mysterious. It is up to you, as the writer, to determine the mood of your piece and stick with it. Sure, there will be shifts in the character's moods, but the overall tone of the story must remain the same.

5. You must begin at the beginning.
Too many writers feel the necessity to fill in every detail about their characters, their setting, and their backstory in the first few chapters of their work. Be careful to avoid that mistake. Start your story in the middle of the action. You can fill in details along the way.

By following these tips, you'll greatly improve your story or article. While each of these points mainly refers to the beginning of your work, several of them can be followed throughout the writing process, making your entire manuscript a literary masterpiece.

Dana Rongione is a full-time Christian freelance writer and writing coach living in Greenville, SC. She offers a wide variety of writing services, including e-classes and personal coaching. For free writing resources, prompts, tips, and quotes, visit LearnWriteNow.com [http://learnwritenow.com/index.php/writers].
For daily encouragement, check out her blog, A Word Fitly Spoken.
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