Story Openings How to keep you reader reading on! Why is the opening important?

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Story Openings

  • How to keep you reader reading on!

Why is the opening important?

  • The first few lines of any piece of writing are essential because they set the tone and, hopefully, make the reader want to read on. This is known as a ‘hook’.
  • When I was four months old, my mother died suddenly and my father was left to look after me all by himself.
  • Danny The Champion Of The World by Roald Dahl

How do you make the reader want to read on?

  • The first line should leave the reader asking a question. This question should invite the reader to keep reading.
  • I disappeared on the night before my twelfth birthday. Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo

How should I begin?

  • There are many different ways to start a story. Here are a few of them:
  • Description of a character:
  • The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis

Or you could begin with…

  • Description of setting:
  • The hottest day of the summer so far was drawing to a close and a drowsy silence lay over the large, square houses of Privet Drive.

Or how about…

  • Description of setting and character:
  • A thousand miles ago, in a country east of the jungle and south of the mountains, there lived a Firework-Maker called Lalchand and his daughter Lila.
  • The Firework-Maker’s Daughter by Phillip Pullman

Or maybe…

  • Action:
  • Peter crouched over the fire, stirring the embers so that the sparks swarmed up like imps on the rocky walls of hell.
  • Count Karlstein by Phillip Pullman


  • Dialogue:
  • I’m going shopping in the village,” George’s mother said to George on Saturday morning. “So be a good boy and don’t get up to mischief.”
  • George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl

How about…

  • A question:

Or maybe…

  • A statement:
  • It’s a funny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful.
  • Matilda by Roald Dahl


  • The opening of a story should normally tell the reader:

Don’t forget!

  • Your opening should also have a ‘hook’. That is, something to keep the reader interested and make him or her want to read more.
  • Now try planning your own story opening.

First you need to think about…

  • The who, where, when and what!
    • Who is your story about?
    • Where and When is it set?
    • What is going to happen?

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