Creative Story Treats: How to Craft a Powerful Opening


Since it’s Halloween today–and NaNoWriMo starts at midnight, I thought it would be a great day for a treat along with a writing tip. Read on to join in on our First Lines Game and have the chance to win a sweet treat!

With a full month of no-holds-barred writing ahead for those of us participating in the 50,000 words in 30 days challenge that is National Novel Writing Month, the blank page awaiting us on November 1st can be downright terrifying.

Personally, my head is swimming with story ideas, new characters waiting to burst onto the page, and a whole lot of fear from my inner editor. But I’m getting ready to lock up that editor for the month, which means it’s time to turn my attention to my shiny new novel.


Starting strong is the hardest part

For all you readers and writers out there, you know the importance of a first line. It sets the stage, mood, and tone for everything that comes after it.

And sometimes, if it’s not well-crafted, it can encourage us to put the book down before even getting into it. No one wants that!

So how do you start strong?


Three Tips for a Great Opening

  1. Set the Scene: Use the first line or two to ground us in the world of your story. This can be especially effective when writing a story set in a fantasy world, outer space, or even a quirky small town like Stars Hollow, Connecticut. (Anyone else excited about the Gilmore Girls revival? Sorry, moving on…)
  2. Introduce your Character(s): Give the reader an immediate glimpse into the mind of a character. This helps to get your reader invested in the story fast. Show an emotion, or foreshadow an important future event. Caution: It’s tempting to start with a character waking up, but just be aware that this has been done A LOT, and probably won’t have the impact you hope it will.
  3. A Little Mood: The feeling evoked from an opening can be powerful–you can make your reader laugh, feel scared, or even get emotional just from a moody opening. Even the weather can play a part here. The classic example of this (which can be taken as a good opening or a bad one) is “It was a dark and stormy night.”

Just make sure the tone you set in the beginning fits with your writing style and the rest of the story.


And now for a game!

We want to see your best first lines! Comment below with your opening line (or two) OR share on Twitter or Instagram using #SPFirstLines. If you aren’t writing a story right now, you can share your favorite opening from another author (give them credit, though!) if you want. We’ll do a drawing on Friday from all the responses, and the winner will receive a sweet treat in the mail! 

I’ll be back on the 14th with another post about #NaNoWriMo and I’ll share some of our favorite opening lines then, too!


author-dana-blackDana, signing off to stock up on coffee and snacks for NaNoWriMo!

7 thoughts on “Creative Story Treats: How to Craft a Powerful Opening

  1. Philly crouched beneath his prize, breathing in the sweet, tangy aroma of sugar and citrus curling down from the window. The slamming of pots, the clatter of shattered earthenware, and the shouts of a cook demanding perfection for the upcoming festivities served as reminders why Philly had to succeed without being spotted—his future depended on it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is from a 3000 word short story I’ve written:

    “The town was all lit up that night. Mirabelle Walker and Janus Cartwright’s wedding it was; even I was affected by the atmosphere.”

    Liked by 1 person

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