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  • Writer's pictureRay

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 Buendía 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:


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


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


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


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


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


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