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Reeling In Your Reader

April 26th, 2019

I have to admit that I love a bit of fiction. Don’t you? There’s nothing like being whisked away to exciting new worlds, or going on thrilling adventures. Equally, there’s something special about a love story that gives you that happy glow and makes you feel that all is right with the world.

Now, I love reading books, but I also like a short story. In today’s world, life seems to be galloping along, and we barely have time to breathe, but we all have the odd five minutes to spare. And five minutes is all it takes to read a short story and to lose yourself in someone else’s life.

It’s the first couple of sentences that usually sucks me into a story. Take this example:

“I didn’t mean it. Please…please don’t hurt me,” the young girl said, her dark eyes welling up with tears.  

 “You should have thought of that before,” the man said, advancing towards her.  

See how, as a reader, you already feel part of the story. Your interest is also piqued. What didn’t she mean to do? This shows how effective dialogue can be in opening a short story. The reader is privy to the conversation taking place and so they’re instantly plunged into the story. Perhaps you could try this technique for yourself when you next write a short story.

Shocking your reader is another good way to thrust your reader right into your story. Here’s an example:

Today started a bit differently to any other day. Well, it’s not every morning that you kill your mother, is it?

Ensuring your reader feels part of the story through building up a strong sense of atmosphere also makes a powerful beginning:

I am falling like the darkness. All around me are unfamiliar smells and sounds, unknown predators weaving their way towards me. I steady myself and make for the safe sanctuary of the tree as the rain begins to stab at my eyes. I gulp, listening to the wind, no longer the gentle breeze of the day.

See how the hairs on your arms stand on end, as you read the passage, making you feel as if you’re right there with the character.

Introducing your reader to your main character and making them care for that character guarantees that they become instantly involved in your story:

She could do it. There. She’d taken one step. Now two. Carrie turned and looked behind her. Sally was still there at the corner, one fist pounding into the other one. Carrie gulped. She shouldn’t have looked.

Whichever way you choose to open your story, make sure leave your reader wanting to know more. Leave them dangling, feeling compelled to read on.


Esther Chilton is a freelance writer, copywriter, and copyeditor. She also tutors for The Writers Bureau. Her latest book of short stories, A Walk In The Woods and other short stories is out now and available as an e-book from Amazon.  A paperback version will be released later in the year. She blogs at https://esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com





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