• Ray

Great Beginnings



For my first post, I figured it would be elegant to write about great openings to stories. The best ones capture your entire attention, often in a single line. And those lines sometimes tell an entire story themselves.

Some accomplish greatness with an exquisite description and delivery of emotion that cradles the entire novel:

"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."

- Neuromancer, by William Gibson.

Some catch your attention with juxtaposition of matter-of-fact statement with a shocking visual or a striking absurdity: 

"It was the day my grandmother exploded."

- The Crow Road, by Iain Banks.

"I write this sitting in the kitchen sink."

- I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith


Or retrospective that kindles an eagerness to learn how things ended up as stated: 

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano BuendĂ­a was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

 - One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez 

The unusual or out-of-place captures the mind with a dissonance that it must mend by reading further:


"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."

- 1984, by George Orwell

"It was a pleasure to burn."

- Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury


As there are countless ways to tell a great story, there are countless ways to write a powerful opening. These are only a handful of the sands from that shore.

Here, I offer up some beginnings I'd like to see, and one day might write stories to finish them off:

1.

The label said not to eat it, so I ate it.

2.

Jan was only 5 years old when she was kidnapped by the Vice President.

3.

I accidentally killed someone with my shoe yesterday, and that was before I even left for work.

4.

I am the man you fear when you lock your deadbolt on those nights of choking silence.

5.

As my heart and its torn carriage, drawn only by my ephemeral breath, plodded to a final rest, I remembered her miserable name: Deirdre.