Begin With A Promise

Creative writing, especially when writing a story, should begin with a promise of worthwhileness. Your readers need the assurance that, of all the things they could be doing, they haven’t chosen wrongly by reading your story.

As a creative, understand the role the first sentence, paragraph and chapter play in securing the trust of your readers. These first elements should come to your readers as packaged promises that guarantee an adventurous story ahead.

For example, to make a child do her homework, would it be more effective to tell her the importance of homework, or promise her a reward when she’s done?

When was the last time you read a book to the last page without the assurance that there was something in it for you?

The reality is, every reader is a child in some sense and needs to be persuaded to read your story. This will only happen if your beginning holds a promise of something big.

In other words, the beginning of your story should serve as the bait that drags the reader into a seat away from the shelves of many options.

Here’s an example of a catchy opening:

First Paragraph: “If the young Talib bodyguard had known that making the cell phone call would kill him, he would not have done it. But he did not know, so he did, and it did.”


HOWEVER! HOWEVER!
After you have achieved a beginning that secures your readers, make sure you deliver on your promise by giving a good story.

Readers have the instinctual compulsion to check out other things you’ve written when you satisfy them. But remember that the instinct also works in reverse when you don’t make good on your promise. Readers will become averse to anything with your name on it. Because they know that your homework comes with no reward at the end.

In creative writing, always remember that if you bait well, you’ll surely hook a reader.

Exercise:

Read the first sentences, paragraphs or chapters (as the case may be) of three of your favorite stories. What can you identify? Is there a common compulsion running through all of them?

Tell us in the comments how the endings worked out for you, and if they stirred you to search for another of the authors books.


Sample Story: The Afghan by Fredrick Forsyth

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