Beginnings (Part 3)

This concludes the series on eight different ways to begin an article, story, devotional, or book chapter. I have used opening paragraphs from some of my books as examples. Beginnings are very important, and I hope my suggestions will help you craft a good opening paragraph.

 6. A Mood is set by using such phrases as: stared out the window, huge chunks of ice, shivered.

Staring out my hotel window on this winter’s day in Washington D.C., I watched huge chunks of ice lazily drift down the Potomac River. I rubbed my arms and shivered—partly from the cold, but mostly from the memory forming in my mind (“Loving Too Little, Loving Too Much,” Rest Stops for Single Mothers).


7. A Question may be asked at the beginning or near the beginning of the story or chapter.

The front door was slammed angrily with a thud. My son stomped down the stairs and out of earshot. Only silence remained.

Why do I fight with my son?  My stomach churned as I pondered this question (“A Gentle Attitude,” Rest Stops for Single Mothers).


8. A Quotation may be used to begin a devotional, a story or article, or a book chapter.

 He who cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass.

–Author Unknown (“Forget and Forgive,” Rest Stops for Single Mothers).


Whatever vehicle you choose, make sure you grab the reader’s attention immediately. Don’t be afraid to jump into the action.


Beginnings (Part 2)

The beginning of an article, story, devotional, or book chapter is very important. You need to grab the editor to get your material published and then grab the reader to have him or her read it. In my last blog, I gave you two suggestions for beginnings. Here are three more.

3. A Thesis is presented by this lead that explains a venture of faith. Also, a metaphor is used comparing stepping out in faith to walking down an unknown path. Antithesis is another vehicle found here with confidence and excitement contrasted with fear, and falling over the edge of a cliff contrasted with being sure-footed.

Stepping out on a venture of faith is like being propelled swiftly down an unknown path in the dark. There is confidence and excitement instead of fear. If the way leads suddenly over the edge of a cliff, faith says the foot will find support if God underwrites the venture (Chapter 3 – Eyes Beyond the Horizon).


4. Presenting a Problem to be solved is an excellent way to begin a story. It reaches out and grabs the reader.

My manager at the telephone company, where I worked as a service representative, called me into his office. “I just received a call from White River, Arizona. Your father didn’t show up at work today, Susan. He is missing. His car was found parked on a mountain road—empty.”

I collapsed into a chair. A small voice inside told me my father was dead (“The Fatal Fall,” Rest Stops for Single Mothers).


5. Dialogue is an excellent vehicle for jumping into the action of a story. Here it is used in conjunction with the presentation of a problem to be solved.

“Mom, I had to abandon my car,” my son’s voice sounded breathless on the other end of the telephone line. “Flames were jumping across the highway. Burning branches fell into the back of my convertible.”

“Are you OK?”  I asked (“The Fire,” Rest Stops for Single Mothers).


In my next blog, I will give you three more suggestions for ways to start an article, story, devotional, or book chapter.

Beginnings (Part 1)

There are many ways to begin a book chapter, article, or story. Here are the first two of my eight suggestions, taken from two of my books, Rest Stops for Single Mothers (Broadman & Holman) and Eyes Beyond the Horizon (Thomas Nelson). The types of leads I suggest here can apply for devotionals and other short pieces, fiction and nonfiction stories, articles, and book chapters.

1. Narrative is used here to tell a mini-story from the narrator’s viewpoint. In the example below, you can picture the sail boat catching the wind.

As I scanned the horizon, my eyes focused on a sailboat gliding out of the bay. It cruised smoothly for a moment until the sailor lost the direction of the wind. The mainsail flapped in the breeze, and the boat slowed to a near halt. The man turned the rudder and leaned his craft back into the wind. The sails caught the breeze, and soon the vessel glided swiftly out of the harbor (“Lean into the Wind,” Rest Stops for Single Mothers).

2. Characterization is often used as a lead. This description of Bob Bowman gives the reader an insight into his looks and personality as a teen. The description of the scene transports the reader back to L.A. in the 1930’s.

Pushing the gas pedal against the floorboards, the proud eighteen‑year‑old owner of a beat‑up 1929 Ford sped along a dirt road that transversed dusty bean fields. His brown hair was slicked back with a wave, and his blue eyes stared straight ahead. The acres of weeds stretching before him would someday shudder beneath the ear‑splitting runway traffic of the vast complex known as Los Angeles International Airport (Chapter 2 – Eyes Beyond the Horizon).

More ways to begin will be coming in future blogs.