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How the Beginning of a Story Changes the Tone

Updated on February 29, 2012

The theory

Let me begin by saying this is something I am learning in a Creative Writing class in college. I am by no means a master of, or know all about this method of writing. I have however, been experimenting with it and find it very interesting.

When getting ready to start a story, you have in mind a feeling or topic, or situation. Instead of just writing the first sentence and continuing, try writing the first sentence in different formats. I have an example below to better clarify. When you start the same exact story four or five different ways, you can really start to see how the first sentence can shape the tone and path of the story. Re-reading the different beginnings later can give you a sense of how another reader may feel reading your story, or questions that may arise as they read. Depending on what you are trynig to accomplish with your story, you may find a better way to begin than your original method! Also, just making yourself get out of a comfort zone and write in different ways makes you a better thinker and writer overall.

My Example

These are different styles of beginnings, all for the exact same story. Notice how you may think something different is going to happen in each, based on just the way the opening line is written.

1. Two weeks. If you are waiting for something good to happen, two weeks can seem like an eternity. If you only have two weeks left to spend with someone you care about, the time goes by like the flash of a firefly on a summer night. I was having one of those summer nights.

2. . Everything in the restaurant seemed to move in slow motion. I could see the waiters moving from table to table, hear the low hum or conversations at nearby tables, but my brain just couldn't process the world around me at that moment. Everything I had hoped for was crashing down around me and the noise was deafening.

3. "I'm moving." When he uttered those two words, I hoped he meant to a new apartment across town, or maybe even somewhere close to my house. When he told me he was moving to another city, ten hours away, my heart sank.

4. Can long distance relationships work? I've heard of them lasting for years, or even a lifetime, but only in books or romantic comedies. Is there really a such thing as a fairy tale in real life?


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    • profile image

      Megan's Thoughts 5 years ago from Georgia

      I will definitely check out your hub, I will take all the help I can get! Thank you!

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 5 years ago from UK

      Good hints and tips that you have also illustrated with first rate examples here. Well done - I've done a similar and more elaborate take on the subject. I tried to categorise the story beginnings into seven different types of dramatic starts- if you get a chance check it out -' Writing tips: seven hooks to tease your reader'. As you rightly say the way we begin the story sets the scene so well.

      Voted up!

    • profile image

      Megan's Thoughts 5 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you!

    • duffsmom profile image

      P. Thorpe Christiansen 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

      Excellent points and your example really made me think. Thanks for the great hub.