“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. . . “
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
“Call me Ishmael.”
All of the above are fantastic beginnings from classic novels. They create a tone that sets the rest of the story and grab readers’ attention.
The most important part of a piece is the beginning. If you don’t hook a reader in the beginning, he won’t read the rest of your writing.
You must be compelling.
What is compelling?
What isn’t compelling?
- Pointless chatter
Give your readers a reason to enter your world, and more importantly, to stay.
Also–begin by showing, not telling. Open with dialogue and action.
Don’t tell the reader what’s behind the door. Open the door and draw him in.
Reading gives you inspiration. Refraining from it is writing suicide–it will make your words bland.
How to Use Reading to Improve Your Writing
- Get into the habit of reading. Read often–I would suggest at least 30 minutes a day. Log your progress and give yourself rewards.
- Always carry a book with you. Even if you don’t think you’ll need it. Read on airplanes, long car trips, in the bathroom. Wherever.
- Read the great authors’ works. Shakespeare. Austen. Fitzgerald. Twain. They each have their distinct style. They will teach you something new.
- Analyze the plots, themes, characters. Why did the writer choose a certain twist? How did the writer flesh out the characters?
- Pay attention to the sentence structure, vocabulary words, and literary devices used. How do they enhance the story?
- Read way out of your genre. You write romance? Go read science fiction. There’s a lot you can learn from writers outside of your usual scope.
- Enjoy reading. Don’t just read to become a better writer. Read to enjoy it.