- Writing Prompts
150+ Story Starters: Creative Sentences To Start A Story
The most important thing about writing is finding a good idea . You have to have a great idea to write a story. You have to be able to see the whole picture before you can start to write it. Sometimes, you might need help with that. Story starters are a great way to get the story rolling. You can use them to kick off a story, start a character in a story or even start a scene in a story.
When you start writing a story, you need to have a hook. A hook can be a character or a plot device. It can also be a setting, something like “A young man came into a bar with a horse.” or a setting like “It was the summer of 1969, and there were no cell phones.” The first sentence of a story is often the hook. It can also be a premise or a situation, such as, “A strange old man in a black cloak was sitting on the train platform.”
Story starters are a way to quickly get the story going. They give the reader a place to start reading your story. Some story starters are obvious, and some are not. The best story starters are the ones that give the reader a glimpse into the story. They can be a part of a story or a part of a scene. They can be a way to show the reader the mood of a story. If you want to start a story, you can use a simple sentence. You can also use a question or an inspirational quote. In this post, we have listed over 150 story starters to get your story started with a bang! A great way to use these story starters is at the start of the Finish The Story game .
If you want more story starters, check out this video on some creative story starter sentences to use in your stories:
150+ Creative Story Starters
Here is a list of good sentences to start a story with:
- I’ve read about a million stories about princesses but never thought I could ever be one.
- There was once a man who was very old, but he was wise. He lived for a very long time, and he was very happy.
- What is the difference between a man and a cat? A cat has nine lives.
- In the middle of the night, a boy is running through the woods.
- It is the end of the world.
- He knew he was not allowed to look into the eyes of the princess, but he couldn’t help himself.
- The year is 1893. A young boy was running away from home.
- What if the Forest was actually a magical portal to another dimension, the Forest was a portal to the Otherworld?
- In the Forest, you will find a vast number of magical beings of all sorts.
- It was the middle of the night, and the forest was quiet. No bugs or animals disturbed the silence. There were no birds, no chirping.
- If you wish to stay in the Forest, you will need to follow these rules: No one shall leave the Forest. No one shall enter. No one shall take anything from the Forest.
- “It was a terrible day,” said the old man in a raspy voice.
- A cat is flying through the air, higher and higher, when it happens, and the cat doesn’t know how it got there, how it got to be in the sky.
- I was lying in the woods, and I was daydreaming.
- The Earth is a world of wonders.
- The fairy is the most amazing creature I have ever met.
- A young girl was sitting on a tree stump at the edge of a river when she noticed a magical tree growing in the water.
- My dancing rat is dressed in a jacket, a tie and glasses, which make him look like a person.
- In the darkness of the night, I am alone, but I know that I am not.
- Owls are the oldest, and most intelligent, of all birds.
- My name is Reyna, and I am a fox.
- The woman was drowning.
- One day, he was walking in the forest.
- It was a dark and stormy night…
- There was a young girl who could not sleep…
- A boy in a black cape rode on a white horse…
- A crazy old man in a black cloak was sitting in the middle of the street…
- The sun was setting on a beautiful summer day…
- The dog was restless…”
- There was a young boy in a brown coat…
- I met a young man in the woods…
- In the middle of a dark forest…
- The young girl was at home with her family…
- There was a young man who was sitting on a …
- A young man came into a bar with a horse…
- I have had a lot of bad dreams…
- He was a man who wanted to be king…
- It was the summer of 1969, and there were no cell phones.
- I know what you’re thinking. But no, I don’t want to be a vegetarian. The worst part is I don’t like the taste.
- She looked at the boy and decided to ask him why he wasn’t eating. She didn’t want to look mean, but she was going to ask him anyway.
- The song played on the radio, as Samual wiped away his tears.
- This was the part when everything was about to go downhill. But it didn’t…
- “Why make life harder for yourself?” asked Claire, as she bit into her apple.
- She made a promise to herself that she would never do it.
- I was able to escape.
- I was reading a book when the accident happened.
- “I can’t stand up for people who lie and cheat.” I cried.
- You look at me and I feel beautiful.
- I know what I want to be when I grow up.
- We didn’t have much money. But we knew how to throw a good party.
- The wind blew on the silent streets of London.
- What do you get when you cross an angry bee and my sister?
- The flight was slow and bumpy. I was half asleep when the captain announced we were going down.
- At the far end of the city was a river that was overgrown with weeds.
- It was a quiet night in the middle of a busy week.
- One afternoon, I was eating a sandwich in the park when I spotted a stranger.
- In the late afternoon, a few students sat on the lawn reading.
- The fireflies were dancing in the twilight as the sunset.
- In the early evening, the children played in the park.
- The sun was setting and the moon was rising.
- A crowd gathered in the square as the band played.
- The top of the water tower shone in the moonlight.
- The light in the living room was on, but the light in the kitchen was off.
- When I was a little boy, I used to make up stories about the adventures of these amazing animals, creatures, and so on.
- All of the sudden, I realized I was standing in the middle of an open field surrounded by nothing but wildflowers, and the only thing I remembered about it was that I’d never seen a tree before.
- It’s the kind of thing that’s only happened to me once before in my life, but it’s so cool to see it.
- They gave him a little wave as they drove away.
- The car had left the parking lot, and a few hours later we arrived home.
- They were going to play a game of bingo.
- He’d made up his mind to do it. He’d have to tell her soon, though. He was waiting for a moment when they were alone and he could say it without feeling like an idiot. But when that moment came, he couldn’t think of anything to say.
- Jamie always wanted to own a plane, but his parents were a little tight on the budget. So he’d been saving up to buy one of his own.
- The night was getting colder, and the wind was blowing in from the west.
- The doctor stared down at the small, withered corpse.
- She’d never been in the woods before, but she wasn’t afraid.
- The kids were having a great time in the playground.
- The police caught the thieves red-handed.
- The world needs a hero more than ever.
- Mother always said, “Be good and nice things will happen…”
- There is a difference between what you see and what you think you see.
- The sun was low in the sky and the air was warm.
- “It’s time to go home,” she said, “I’m getting a headache.”
- It was a cold winter’s day, and the snow had come early.
- I found a wounded bird in my garden.
- “You should have seen the look on my face.”
- He opened the door and stepped back.
- My father used to say, “All good things come to an end.”
- The problem with fast cars is that they break so easily.
- “What do you think of this one?” asked Mindy.
- “If I asked you to do something, would you do it?” asked Jacob.
- I was surprised to see her on the bus.
- I was never the most popular one in my class.
- We had a bad fight that day.
- The coffee machine had stopped working, so I went to the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea.
- It was a muggy night, and the air-conditioning unit was so loud it hurt my ears.
- I had a sleepless night because I couldn’t get my head to turn off.
- I woke up at dawn and heard a horrible noise.
- I was so tired I didn’t know if I’d be able to sleep that night.
- I put on the light and looked at myself in the mirror.
- I decided to go in, but the door was locked.
- A man in a red sweater stood staring at a little kitten as if it was on fire.
- “It’s so beautiful,” he said, “I’m going to take a picture.”
- “I think we’re lost,” he said, “It’s all your fault.”
- It’s hard to imagine what a better life might be like
- He was a tall, lanky man, with a long face, a nose like a pin, and a thin, sandy moustache.
- He had a face like a lion’s and an eye like a hawk’s.
- The man was so broad and strong that it was as if a mountain had been folded up and carried in his belly.
- I opened the door. I didn’t see her, but I knew she was there.
- I walked down the street. I couldn’t help feeling a little guilty.
- I arrived at my parents’ home at 8:00 AM.
- The nurse had been very helpful.
- On the table was an array of desserts.
- I had just finished putting the last of my books in the trunk.
- A car horn honked, startling me.
- The kitchen was full of pots and pans.
- There are too many things to remember.
- The world was my oyster. I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth.
- “My grandfather was a World War II veteran. He was a decorated hero who’d earned himself a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and a Purple Heart.
- Beneath the menacing, skeletal shadow of the mountain, a hermit sat on his ledge. His gnarled hands folded on his gnarled knees. His eyes stared blankly into the fog.
- I heard a story about a dragon, who was said to be the size of a house, that lived on the top of the tallest mountain in the world.
- I was told a story about a man who found a golden treasure, which was buried in this very park.
- He stood alone in the middle of a dark and silent room, his head cocked to one side, the brown locks of his hair, which were parted in the middle, falling down over his eyes.
- Growing up, I was the black sheep of the family. I had my father’s eyes, but my mother’s smile.
- Once upon a time, there was a woman named Miss Muffett, and she lived in a big house with many rooms.
- When I was a child, my mother told me that the water looked so bright because the sun was shining on it. I did not understand what she meant at the time.
- The man in the boat took the water bottle and drank from it as he paddled away.
- The man looked at the child with a mixture of pity and contempt.
- An old man and his grandson sat in their garden. The old man told his grandson to dig a hole.
- An old woman was taking a walk on the beach. The tide was high and she had to wade through the water to get to the other side.
- She looked up at the clock and saw that it was five minutes past seven.
- The man looked up from the map he was studying. “How’s it going, mate?”
- I was in my room on the third floor, staring out of the window.
- A dark silhouette of a woman stood in the doorway.
- The church bells began to ring.
- The moon rose above the horizon.
- A bright light shone over the road.
- The night sky began to glow.
- I could hear my mother cooking in the kitchen.
- The fog began to roll in.
- He came in late to the class and sat at the back.
- A young boy picked up a penny and put it in his pocket.
- He went to the bathroom and looked at his face in the mirror.
- It was the age of wisdom and the age of foolishness. We once had everything and now we have nothing.
- A young man died yesterday, and no one knows why.
- The boy was a little boy. He was not yet a man. He lived in a house in a big city.
- They had just returned from the theatre when the phone rang.
- I walked up to the front of the store and noticed the neon sign was out.
- I always wondered what happened to Mary.
- I stopped to say hello and then walked on.
- The boy’s mother didn’t want him to play outside…
- The lights suddenly went out…
- After 10 years in prison, he was finally out.
- The raindrops pelted the window, which was set high up on the wall, and I could see it was a clear day outside.
- My friend and I had just finished a large pizza, and we were about to open our second.
- I love the smell of the ocean, but it never smells as good as it does when the waves are crashing.
- They just stood there, staring at each other.
- A party was in full swing until the music stopped.
For more ideas on how to start your story, check out these first-line writing prompts . Did you find this list of creative story starters useful? Let us know in the comments below!
Marty the wizard is the master of Imagine Forest. When he's not reading a ton of books or writing some of his own tales, he loves to be surrounded by the magical creatures that live in Imagine Forest. While living in his tree house he has devoted his time to helping children around the world with their writing skills and creativity.
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Sentence Starters: Ultimate List to Improve Your Essays and Writing
This blog post is going to be about … No. Too boring.
Today, I am going to talk to you about ... No. Too specific.
This is a blog post for all writers ... Nope. Too generic.
Has this ever been you while writing? I get it. Writing a good sentence can be hard, and when you have to string a whole lot of them together, the task can become daunting. So what do you do?
From the first sentence you write to the very last, you want each one to show your style and motivate your reader to keep reading. In this post, we are going to think about how you start your sentences.
What Is a Good Sentence Starter for an Essay Introduction?
What is a good sentence starter for a body paragraph, 25 useful transitions, can i repeat a sentence starter, how can i rephrase "in conclusion".
The first paragraph of a paper can make or break your grade. It is what gets your audience into the topic and sets the whole stage. Because of this, it is important to get your readers hooked early.
The first sentence of a paper is often called the hook. It shouldn’t be anything ordinary. It should have strong language and be a little surprising, with an interesting fact, story, statistic, or quote on the topic.
Because it is designed to pull the reader in and surprise them a little, it is often good to avoid pre-written sentence starter examples when writing your hook. Just get into it here, and worry about the flow later.
Here are some examples:
Spider webs were once used as bandages.
I taught myself to read when I was three. At least, that’s the story my parents tell.
Recent studies suggest that the average person lies at least once in every conversation.
“The world is bleeding and humans wield the knife,” or so says environmental scientist So Andso.
(P.S. Except for example 1, which is true, I just made all of these up to demonstrate my point. So, please don’t quote me on these!)
Once you jump right in with your hook, it is time to start working on ways to move sentences along. Here is where you may need some sentence starter examples.
In your first paragraph, you basically want to connect your hook to your thesis. You’ll do this with a few sentences setting up the stage for your topic and the claim you will make about it. To do that, follow the tips found in the next section on body paragraphs and general sentence starter tips.
Many of the tips I am about to discuss can be used anywhere in a paper, but they are especially helpful when writing body paragraphs.
Let’s start with one of the most important types of sentence starter in essay writing: transition words.
How Do I Use Transitions in an Essay?
If you want to start writing terrific sentences (and improve your essay structure ), the first thing you should do is start using transition words.
Transition words are those words or phrases that help connect thoughts and ideas. They move one sentence or paragraph into another, and they make things feel less abrupt.
The good thing about transition words is that you probably know a lot of them already and currently use them in your speech. Now, you just need to transition them into your writing. (See what I did there?)
Before we get into examples of what a good transition word is, let’s look at a paragraph without any transitions:
I went to the store. I bought bacon and eggs. I saw someone I knew. I said hello. I went to the cashier. They checked me out. I paid. I got my groceries. I went to my car. I returned home.
Yikes! That is some boring writing. It was painful to write, and I am sure it is even worse to read. There are two reasons for this:
- I start every sentence with the same word (more on this later)
- There are no signposts showing me how the ideas in the paragraph connect.
In an essay, you need to show how each of your ideas relate to each other to build your argument. If you just make a series of statements one after the other, you’re not showing your instructor that you actually understand those statements, or your topic.
How do we fix this? Transition words. Roughly 25% of your sentences should start with a transition word. If you can hit that number in your essay, you’ll know that you’ve made meaningful steps towards demonstrating your understanding.
Of course, hitting that number isn’t enough—those transitions need to be meaningful. Let’s look at the different types of transitions and how you can use them.
What Are Words Like First , Next , and Last Called?
You probably already use some transitions in your essays. For example, if you start a paragraph with firstly , you’ve used a transition word. But transitions can do so much more!
Here are 25 common transitional words and phrases that you could use in your essay:
- Additionally / In Addition
- Alternatively / Conversely
- As a result of
- At this time
- Contrary to
- First(ly), Second(ly), etc.
- In contrast
- On the other hand
- Particularly / In particular
- In other words
This list isn’t exhaustive, but it is a good start.
These words show different types of relationships between ideas. These relationships fall into four main categories: Emphasis , Contrast , Addition , and Order .
What Are Emphasis Transition Words?
These phrases are used when you want to highlight a point. Examples from my above list include clearly , particularly , and indeed . Want to see some more? Follow my bolded transitions: Undoubtedly , you understand now. It should be noted that you don’t need to worry.
How Do You Use Addition Transitions?
These words add on to what you just said. These are words like along with , moreover , and also . Here are some more: Not only are you going to be great at transitions after this, but you will also be good at writing sentences. Furthermore , everyone is excited to see what you have to say.
How Can I Use Transitions to Contrast Ideas?
This is the opposite of addition, and you use it when you want to show an alternative view or to compare things. Examples from my list include words like nonetheless , contrary to , and besides .
Here are some more: Unlike people who haven’t read this article, you are going to be really prepared to write great sentences. Even so , there is still a lot more about writing to learn.
How Do I Order Ideas in My Essay?
A good first step is using order transition words.
This set of transitions helps mark the passage of time or gives an order to events. From the list, think of things like first and finally . Now for some extras: At this time yesterday , you were worried about starting sentences. Following this , though, you will be an expert.
Now that you get the concept of transitions, let’s go back to that poorly written paragraph above and add some in to see what happens:
This morning , I went to the store. While I was there, I bought bacon and eggs. Then I saw someone I knew. So I said hello. After that , I went to the cashier. At that time , they checked me out. First , I paid. Next , I got my groceries. Following that , I went to my car. Finally , I returned home.
(Notice the use of commas after most of these transitions!)
This isn’t the best paragraph I’ve ever written. It still needs a lot of work. However, notice what a difference just adding transitions makes. This is something simple but effective you can start doing to make your sentences better today.
If you want to check your transition usage, try ProWritingAid’s Transitions report . You’ll see how many of each type of transition word you've used so you can pin-point where you might be losing your reader.
Sign up for a free ProWritingAid account to try it out.
What Are Some Linking Phrases I Can Use in My Essay?
As well as individual words, you can also use short phrases at the beginning of your sentences to transition between ideas. I just did it there— "As well as individual words" shows you how this section of the article is related to the last.
Here are some more phrases like this:
As shown in the example,
As a result of this,
After the meeting,
While this may be true,
Though researchers suggest X,
Before the war began,
Until we answer this question,
Since we cannot assume this to be true,
While some may claim Y,
Because we know that Z is true,
These short phrases are called dependent clauses . See how they all end with a comma? That's because they need you to add more information to make them into complete sentences.
- While some may claim that chocolate is bad for you, data from a recent study suggests that it may have untapped health benefits .
- Since we cannot assume that test conditions were consistent, it is impossible to reach a solid conclusion via this experiment .
- As a result of this, critics disagree as to the symbolism of the yellow car in The Great Gatsby .
The bolded text in each example could stand on its own as a complete sentence. However, if we take away the first part of each sentence, we lose our connection to the other ideas in the essay.
These phrases are called dependent clauses : they depend on you adding another statement to the sentence to complete them. When you use a sentence starter phrase like the ones above in your writing, you signal that the new idea you have introduced completes (or disrupts) the idea before it.
Note: While some very short dependent clauses don’t need a comma, most do. Since it is not wrong to use one on even short ones (depending on the style guide being used), it is a good idea to include one every time.
Along with missing transitions and repeating sentence structure, another thing that stops sentences from being great is too much repetition. Keep your sentences sharp and poignant by mixing up word choices to start your sentences.
You might start your sentence with a great word, but then you use that same word 17 sentences in a row. After the first couple, your sentences don’t sound as great. So, whether it is varying the transitional phrases you use or just mixing up the sentence openers in general, putting in some variety will only improve your sentences.
ProWritingAid lets you know if you’ve used the same word repeatedly at the start of your sentences so you can change it.
The Repeats Report also shows you all of the repeats in your document. If you've used a sentence starter and then repeated it a couple of paragraphs down, the report will highlight it for you.
Try the Repeats Report with a free ProWritingAid account.
Now that you have your introduction sentences and body sentences taken care of, let’s talk a little about conclusion sentences. While you will still use transitions and clauses as in the body, there are some special considerations here.
Your conclusion is what people will remember most after they finish reading your paper. So, you want to make it stand out. Don’t just repeat yourself; tell them what they should do with what you just told them!
Use the tips from above, but also remember the following:
Be unique. Not only should you vary the words you use to start different sentences, but you should also think outside of the box. If you use the same conclusion sentence starter everyone else is using, your ideas will blend in too.
Be natural. Some of the best writing out there is writing that sounds natural. This goes for academic writing, too. While you won’t use phrases like "at the end of the day" in essay writing, stilted phrases like "in conclusion" can disrupt the flow you’ve created earlier on.
Here are some alternatives to "in conclusion" you could use in an essay:
- To review, ... (best for scientific papers where you need to restate your key points before making your final statement)
- As has been shown, ...
- In the final analysis, ...
- Taking everything into account, ...
- On the whole, ...
- Generally speaking, ...
If you’re looking for more ways to rephrase "in conclusion," take a look at our complete list of synonyms you can use.
There may not be a set word or words that you can use to make your sentences perfect. However, when you start using these tips, you’ll start to see noticeable improvement in your writing.
If you’ve ever heard people talk about pacing and flow in academic writing, and you have no idea what they mean or how to improve yours, then this is your answer. These tips will help your writing sound more natural, which is how you help your ideas flow.
Take your writing to the next level:
20 Editing Tips from Professional Writers
Whether you are writing a novel, essay, article, or email, good writing is an essential part of communicating your ideas., this guide contains the 20 most important writing tips and techniques from a wide range of professional writers..
Be confident about grammar
Check every email, essay, or story for grammar mistakes. Fix them before you press send.
Ashley Shaw is a former editor and marketer/current PhD student and teacher. When she isn't studying con artists for her dissertation, she's thinking of new ways to help college students better understand and love the writing process.
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Learn story writing from the masters
How to Start a Novel (incl. 31 Famous Story Openers)
54 Remarkable Comments
I had an urgent problem, and it didn’t help that my own freaking expectations were so high.
My mind was circling around the issue. There had to be a witty way to do it; I was desperate for a sudden flash of inspiration.
I was looking for the ultimate, the greatest opener ever – for my post about story openers.
Oh, what a cutesy beginning that was… writing it felt a bit like taking apart a Russian doll. I’m tempted to go on forever – but enough! Let’s actually talk about how to start a novel.
In this post, you can read about:
- Which elements are indispensable for your story openers
- Why you should feel free to throw most of the rules for openers out the window
- 31 story openers, taken from famous novels
- A short explanation for each one and why it works
- An easy trick for how to start your novel (in case you are new to writing)
- An opener list for writers with more experience
- A lot of inspiration to compose your own openers
And if you need a practical sheet to fall back on, then download my…
Story Openers Examples PDF
This free PDF is a summary of the post, including all of its opener examples. Download it, print it, and quickly go through it next time you need inspiration and guidance for an opener.
Now let’s take a look at the most important parts of that perfect opening.
How to Start a Novel
Hopefully the sentence I started this post with caught your attention. If it did, that’s because it’s interesting, it’s drama. People love to read about drama.
Let’s dissect it. Why does it seem interesting?
It’s because it makes you ask yourself a couple of questions, and therefore piques your curiosity: What’s that problem? Why is it urgent? And what’s up with that girlfriend? Is she such a bitch, or are Alex’s nerves so fragile? Several tiny questions add up.
I actually wrote an entire post about how you can create plot by establishing questions (it was the first post ever published on this blog). Check it out if you need guidance for your story line.
Now what’s the perfect opening?
If you expected me to tell you “Follow formula X, and you will have the perfect beginning,” or “Obey rule YZ, and your opener will be holy forever,” then you will be disappointed.
Honestly, that would be a big pile of BS. And “BS” stands for “Bad Speak,” of course, as I’m always very clean and tidy on this blog (but don’t look into my apartment).
There are NO rules you have to follow in order to feel like a proper author (and in order for me to feel like a proper writing coach)!
After all, it’s YOUR story, and you can start it however the heck you want. More so, YOU know best how to start it, because this story comes out of YOU.
So forget all the rules overbearing writing manuals would love to impose on you. You only have to keep one overarching rule in mind for your opener:
It has to be interesting.
To make your beginning interesting, you have a lot of different options. You will find a long list of examples below. A few of them even break this one rule, and the stories are still great.
If you are a beginner, you might want to stick to a beginning that leaves open questions and provokes curiosity. Scroll down for examples in the beginners section.
If you are more experienced, you can also start out with setting a tone of voice and mood. Scroll down to the advanced section for yummy examples.
And for starters (pun intended), I will even give you a formula. It’s not a rule you HAVE to follow, but something to keep in mind if you are not sure what to do:
Write the first sentence so the reader desperately wants to read the second one.
That’s not my quote, unfortunately. It’s by William Faulkner, and it brings us back to luring them in: You write your first sentence to make readers curious about the second one.
You write the second sentence to make them curious about the third one.
The first paragraph to make them curious about the second paragraph.
The first chapter to make them curious about the second chapter.
And so on. I’m sure by now you can imagine how this series continues. Just picture yourself as a fisherman, slowly pulling in the fishing line with your catch hooked. You are stringing the reader along in the best of all ways. You will also have a golden thread for yourself that can guide you along.
But now, I hear some of you asking: What should I write that first sentence about , Alex?”
The answer is: Look inside of you; because that’s where your story lives. You will soon realize what type of scene, what type of feeling, what type of language your story needs. Should the beginning be on point? Or provoking? Should it show attitude? Make us feel light or somber? Should it introduce an intriguing character, place or idea?
Let’s look at all the creative beginnings great authors came up with.
Best Novel Opening Lines?
The following examples were taken from successful novels. I hope their variety will inspire you and kickstart your imagination to find your perfect opener! Here are some notable approaches.
Straight to the Point and Mildly Interesting :
When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.
To Kill a Mockingbird , Harper Lee
This opener tells it as it is, straight to the point. An action is happening, the event is painful for the character and exciting for the reader. This is a plain and simple opener that prompts the question “What will happen next?”
Aphorism, Sounding Smart and Connected to Theme:
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Anna Karenina , Leo Tolstoi
This beginning is a sound bite, an intelligent quick mouthful that could stand for itself as well. Nevertheless, you should connect its message to the core theme of your story. That way, it will make more sense, keep everything compact, and won’t be flapping in the wind like a loose, arbitrary beginning.
Gotham City. Maybe it’s all I deserve, now. Maybe it’s just my time in Hell.
Batman: Year One , Frank Miller
A highly concentrated dose of demeanor. Not only do we get curious about the hellish events and what all of this means, but also about the guy himself: Why does he talk like that? Is he some John Wayne type; evil; or just plain crazy? What makes the world he is living in so dark?
A squat grey building of only thirty-four stories. Over the main entrance the words “Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre” and, in a shield, the World State’s Motto: “Community, Identity, Stability”.
Brave New World , Aldous Huxley
This opener makes us feel uncomfortable, like something is very off in its world. It doesn’t disturb in a plain in-your-face way though. No, on the surface, all the author describes are calmness, order and stability. He uses the foil, and not the sledge hammer. So tell me, reader, where does that creepy feeling come from…?
Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge.
The Blind Assassin , Margaret Atwood
Plain shocking is easy to do and always very effective. You just need some extreme event you can give away at the beginning of your story. Start your tale with a bang! Drama and reader interest will follow.
Shocking, yet Funny/Controversial:
It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.
Earthly Powers , Anthony Burgess
One of my personal favorites ever , and it’s the beginning of a great novel too. Observe how many small, whimsical provocations this sentence mentions in passing. The result, depending on how you see it, is funny or shocking. The first person POV adds to the effect. All of these elements play their part later on in the novel; they are not just shallow effects.
Getting You Hooked by Throwing a Mini-Story at You Right Away:
One summer afternoon Mrs. Oedipa Maas came home from a Tupperware party whose hostess had put perhaps too much kirsch in the fondue to find that she, Oedipa, had been named executor, or she supposed executrix, of the estate of one Pierce Inverarity, a California real estate mogul who had once lost two million dollars in his spare time but still had assets numerous and tangled enough to make the job of sorting it all out more than honorary.
The Crying of Lot 49 , Thomas Pynchon
Throw your own mini-cosmos at the reader before she can even get to the first full stop and take a breath. She will want to know more. All of the elements in this example are well balanced. If you try this at home, make sure your text stays perfectly readable. For instance, resist parentheticals and complicated structures; the example sentence is very long, but still easy to understand.
Unrolling the Bird’s Eye View:
The Galactic Empire was dying.
Foundation and Empire , Isaac Asimov
Short and sweet, as a starting point for your reader to explore. But what the heck is the Galactic Empire? And why is it dying? Did it write a will? We should read on to learn.
Foreshadowing in Letter Style:
You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings.
Frankenstein , Mary Shelley
Annoying to read, but you could argue “Blame the writer of the letter, and not the writer of the book…” Why the official tone? And what’s evil? Inquiring minds want to know (especially the ones that saw a hulk of a monster with a frightening blank stare on the cover).
Foreshadowing in Dramatic Situation:
Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.
One Hundred Years of Solitude , Gabriel García Márquez
We are not sure why the execution is happening, but we know violence is casting a dark shadow over fond childhood memories. The opener oscillates between the Colonel’s past, present and future; the tensions between all those times and feelings make for a story opener loaded with emotions; and all of this in only 26 words.
Characters and Language:
Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone , J.K. Rowling
This character description lets us wonder why they are so normal, and why that needs to be emphasized. But it’s really the Thank you very much that adds a special tone and makes things interesting. It’s the characters’ voice chiming in, and that voice judges in a way that comes from feeling superior. That makes for a very unusual opening. It’s an example of how details matter, and even more so in your opening line. It pays off to think about yours for a while.
Characters and Character History:
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. Whenever you feel like criticizing any one, he told me, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.
The Great Gatsby , F. Scott Fitzgerald
Another beginning that lives off the story’s characters. We want to know about this character that is so well off, about his family’s attitude, and the little scene the author just painted in our minds. The wealthy are of special interest. If you can open with a glimpse into a particular group of people, be it drug dealers or circus artists or a kindergarten kids, and make it authentic , that can be a great opener.
Simple (If You Must):
There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.
Jane Eyre , Charlotte Bronte
Plain and simple – yes, that’s possible too. But think twice if you really want to go that route, and remember, this was written 170 years ago. Entertainment could afford to be a lot slower back then, as TV and YouTube were no competition.
Another Simple One:
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
Nineteen Eighty-Four , George Orwell
An ordinary beginning for a non-ordinary novel. That kind of contrast can sometimes be interesting.
Too Boring for My Taste (But Just to Show You That Anything is Possible, If You Have an Interesting Story to Tell):
A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in close to the hill-side bank and runs deep and green.
Of Mice and Men , John Steinbeck
Describing a landscape is the absolute pinnacle of boredom. I can’t recommend it. But hey, you are the boss…
Very Plain, yet Intriguing:
I am the vampire Lestat.
The Vampire Lestat , Anne Rice
Super simple, but interesting. You can open like this, if you have a vampire in your story. Or some highly unusual place. Or event. Whoever read the title on the cover was already informed though. They knew the story was about none other than the vampire Lestat.
The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.
Murphy , Samuel Beckett
Laconic. And of course completely nihilistic, like Beckett always is. Grips us with a thought and an image.
Oh, Look, Terry Pratchett Tries the Same in His Own Style:
The sun rose slowly, as if it wasn’t sure it was worth the effort.
The Light Fantastic , Terry Pratchett
He also comes after us with the sun, but his take is a cheeky one. It grabs us with wit. Make the style and attitude of your opener fit well with the rest of your novel. Make it a unit and tell the reader what to expect next.
You just read 18 story openers that work wonderfully. Pick the ones you like best and let them inspire you. Have fun!
But what if you want to keep it very simple, and use an effective and bullet-proof opener you don’t have to think about too much? Well, the next section is for you. You should try this especially if you are new to writing.
How to Start Writing a Novel for Beginners (Using the “W” questions)
Your readers’ attention is easy to catch if you can get them curious. Let them wonder! Throw them a tidbit of information, but don’t completely give away who, what, why, where or how.
Yes, those “W” question words are your helpers. And I’m not talking about worried, whining, weary, willful, wrong or wreck. Pick one or several of the real “W” words and make the reader wonder (that’s another magical W-word).
So if you don’t feel like using the openers above, or you just started out writing, use one of these – all of them are based on evoking curiosity:
Who is She? What Is It About This Woman?:
No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be a heroine.
Northanger Abbey , Jane Austen
Is she or is she not a heroine? The sentence is ambiguous and leaves us wondering who Catherine is and what she looks like.
Who is He?, Dark Edition:
I am a sick man… I am a spiteful man. I am an unpleasant man. I think my liver is diseased.
Notes from Underground , Fyodor Dostoevsky
This is the doom and gloom version of the Who is he? question. Doom and gloom is emphasized by the first person point of view. You could also make your character very funny. Or dumb. Or imaginative. Your characters can be super helpful to draw your reader into the story, so use them!
Why is He Doing That? And Why This Reaction?:
Once an angry man dragged his father along the ground through his own orchard. “Stop!” cried the groaning old man at last, “Stop! I did not drag my father beyond this tree.”
The Making of Americans , Gertrude Stein
This sentence includes several riddles as to how these people behave. The scene looks absurd; or is there some sound reason behind it? Original and dramatic. Let the reader discover.
Where Is He? What Happened?:
The regular early morning yell of horror was the sound of Arthur Dent waking up and suddenly remembering where he was.
Life, the Universe and Everything , Douglas Adams
Well, where is this guy? At breakfast with his mother-in-law? Places not fully explained make the reader long for your next sentence as well.
What’s the Truth?:
As I left the railway station at Worchester and set out on the three-mile walk to Ransom’s cottage, I reflected that no one on that platform could possibly guess the truth about the man I was going to visit.
Perelandra , C. S. Lewis
This one is spelling it out in bold letters: THERE IS A SECRET! DISCOVER IT ALREADY, YOU READER YOU! Fair enough, author. It’s effective.
Tyler gets me a job as a waiter, after that Tyler’s pushing a gun in my mouth and saying, the first step to eternal life is you have to die.
Fight Club , Chuck Palahniuk
That’s a great opening to me, because it evokes so many questions in bypassing; all while showing a lot of action and a mini-scene within a single sentence. Questions: Why is he pushing a gun into his mouth? Why the hell did he get him a job as a waiter in the first place then? Who is Tyler? What’s their relationship? And what is going to happen?
Another Smart One That Makes Us Wonder:
For a man of his age, fifty-two, divorced, he has, to his mind, solved the problem of sex rather well.
Disgrace , J. M. Coetzee
Hmmm… what does this mean? It draws us to the second sentence almost magnetically. Sex sells, you know… sex and puppies. Don’t forget to put sex or puppies into your first sentence, always !
And for the ones amongst you who want to go much further than to just tickle curiosity – here is another list:
How to Start a Novel, Advanced Version: Setting the Tone
A great way to intrigue your reader is by setting the mood and tone of your novel.
Think about it: We humans are very emotional creatures. We follow where our emotions lead us. It’s well known in advertising: Don’t appeal to the rational mind by talking about the logical advantages of your product; instead, appeal to emotions! “Just do it, “I’m loving it” or “It gives you wings” are not precisely watertight arguments.
The best way to get under your readers’ skin is to create an emotion for them right away. Set the mood for your novel with your first sentence, and throw them into your story like into a cold pool. They won’t forget.
Your cell phone, overflowing with emotions
Hitting that emotional chord is a bit more challenging than evoking curiosity. But if you already have some writing experience under your belt, or if you just feel like it, then try it. A well-developed sense for language will help. For us writers, mood consists of language.
Now let’s see what we have:
Fairy Tale Style:
The year that Buttercup was born, the most beautiful woman in the world was a French scullery maid named Annette.
The Princess Bride , William Goldman
This one establishes fairy tale ambience right away. By reading the opener, you know you will get something fantastic. You are probably not reading an action piece about New York stockbrokers. The story will allow you to feel good within the defined limits of a fantastic tale; the sentence sounds plain and cutesy and gives it away.
Making it Sexy by Using Language and Association:
Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.
Lolita , Vladimir Nabokov
Life, fire, sin, soul, tongue… the words allude as much to the topic as the rhythm and the obsession about the girl’s name. We can feel something is in the air. This beginning is purely language-driven. A great opener, and one of my favorites.
Dreamy, Glooming Introduction:
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.
Rebecca , Daphne du Maurier
Plain, but effective. We can feel that something somber is overshadowing this beginning. Dreams lend your narration special weight. Also, you can describe anything, no matter how crazy or unrealistic, if it happens in a dream. That little trick gives you a lot of options.
The story so far: In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe , Douglas Adams
If you have a funny idea for an opener and if your story has some funny or ironic undertone, then go for that type of opening. A chuckle from the reader guarantees he will read on. But if your story has no fun elements to it, then don’t do this. It would set very wrong expectations.
There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader , C. S. Lewis
Another fun example. Mean and smart-ass style, and it’s making the author’s voice very hearable.
‘To be born again,’ sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, ‘first you have to die.’
The Satanic Verses , Salman Rushdie
Our last example sets an epic tone, fitting for the novel. Whatever feeling your novel conveys is what you want to start off with. Set the stage in an appropriate way!
That’s the long list of our openers; hopefully you have enough ammunition for your next 213 novels. And if you want to keep all of these beginnings on neat sheets, download the…
Good Story Openers PDF
Get this free PDF with all of these openers. Pull out the sheets before you write your own opener and get inspired to find your perfect opener:
And of course I also have for you some…
Story Openers Writing Prompts
Choose one of the following four story fragments and write a beginning for it. It could be only the first sentence, or the entire first paragraph, or an even longer passage. Feel free to invent as many details as you want!
- A farmer builds a trap for a fox that has been attacking his hens. He finally catches the animal (you can also write from the fox’s POV).
- Lana wants to impress her boss with her latest audit report, but spills coffee all over the papers two minutes before the meeting.
- Knights festival at a castle. The king’s daughter (princess alarm!) tries to convince her father to give the victory to Sir Lancelot, whom she has fallen in love with.
- Take any of your own stories or a story you make up on the spot.
I’m looking forward to seeing your openings below in the comments. Don’t be shy! You can also find a lot more writing prompts on the writing prompts page . Find one you like, and practice writing a nice opener.
The End to the Beginning
They say the first sentence is the most important one of your entire story. If you can’t hook your readers with your first sentence, they won’t read on. Luckily, a great first sentence is not that hard to write.
Employ the strategies you saw in this post. Give yourself time. Writing an effective opener will become easier and easier the more you practice it. You will develop an infallible sense for what works and what doesn’t. You are the master of your story, and I guarantee you, that grand opener for your story is slumbering somewhere inside of you…. Wake it up!
Once you find it, your reader will be irresistibly hooked from phrase one. After that, writing your entire story becomes so much easier, because you are on the right track. And before you know it, you will have an awesome story in your hands!
Image Credits: Laptop Rocket: sdecoret/Fotolia; Winking guy: vectorpocket/Fotolia; Emoticons: koya979/Fotolia
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54 Remarkable Comments. Join in!
It was Sammy’s turn last night, and Rachel’s the night before. If that useless Mr Becker doesn’t do something about the situation soon, we’re all going to get killed.
– my opening for story fragment #1. Of course, once you suggested the fox’s POV I had to go for the hen’s…
Great article as always, keep ’em coming!
Ha ha, that’s brutal. How have you been, Hannah? Long time no see.
Great comment as always, keep them coming!
Great opening. Simple and to the point. Certainly creates interest I want to know who these people are, what they are doing, what ‘situation’ is referred to, and why they could get killed.
The first thing the king thought of was what would his wife think. She didn’t even like that Lancelot Guy–all bravado and no brains. So whose side should he take? “Me thinks” he says to himself, “I just may have to choose Lancelot’s side. He has no idea what he’s getting himself into.”
Uh-oh, you better not mess with the queen…
Nice one, Arvilla. You have a lot going on within a couple of lines; you chose the fast approach.
this one starts a sci-fi I’m working on…
A few years ago my brothers and I had crept outside to visit the ruins of the ancient city. In one of the buildings I discovered something called a book, and brought it back with me. Now it lay hidden in my satchel, the only childhood treasure I deemed worthy enough to bring to my new home.
Creating eerie Sci Fi ambience with a simple item. Right on.
What I really like about it is, you immediately wonder who it is that went with the brothers, what ancient city they visited that contained a book, where the person brought it back to, and what new home this person is headed for, not to mention why they were packing so lightly on the way to that new home….
This paragraph is loaded with many whys, what ifs, and as you say, an eerie quality that immediately alerts the reader to a tension they will want to explore. I wrote the thing, and I’m still excited for more!
Those are all questions, but I think by far the most intriguing question is: What happened to our world, has it become completely shattered?
“Something called a book” are the most interesting words of this opening to me.
Elise awakened, groggy. Her head ached but not from the drunkenness with which she was all too familiar. Alcohol had become her refuge after too many years working the late shift in the ER. Something was dripping onto her forehead. She rubbed the offending wetness and brought her hand before her eyes as they cleared of their bleariness. Fresh blood coated her hand. She forced herself to focus on the room around her. She was still in the hospital, but on the floor, her patient’s hand hanging limp, his life’s force draining onto her face.
The passage above is something I dreamed up for this exercise. Will it germinate into a story? Maybe.
Not only a patient’s, but also a nurse’s and doctor’s nightmare… Will remember it next time I’m at the hospital.
I hope you won’t be in a hospital anytime soon.
Being a medical historian, most of my fictional work has a medical element to it.
Here is a belated reply: As a medical historian, you must have a treasure trove of knowledge to use for your fiction. Good writing!
We sat smiling, chatting, waiting. Death would arrive soon.
This is for my story set in an Independent/Assisted Living facility. Haven’t written it yet. Am living it. . .
One moment all is effort. How can one continue to breathe, much less rise, walk, eat, talk? The next moment I am looking at the absurdity of Life and swear I hear the gods laughing! And I, the god of my own universe, laugh.
Thank you — what a fun exercise!
This is great and very literary. Epic. I’m sorry you are living it. But your mind seems to be sharp, putting the pen to good use.
Not sure if the third paragraph is part of your fiction or you speaking; I guess it all blurs into one another. All the best!
Amidst the ringing bells, cries of delight and smoky atmosphere, no-one noticed me. A gaunt-looking woman, winding her way through the gamblers, with a gin and tonic in her bony hand, seemed natural. No-one stopped, to ask if me I was okay or why my mascara was all smudged. If they had, I most certainly, wouldn’t…have told them, “I’ve just murdered four people. And they deserved to die!”
Thrilling. Your beginning is mainly about that last shocker sentence. You could move it further up the paragraph, to get to the maximum tension sooner.
Marc smiled as he slid the stolen passport across the counter. The policeman did not smile back. Their eyes locked; the policeman’s were devoid of compassion, Marc’s full of audacity. The policeman flipped open the passport then lowered his eyes to examine the photograph. It bore a certain resemblance, but it was not Marc.
The opening lines for my autobiographical novel, “Skating on thin ice.”
Promising. The word “stolen” in the first sentence is important. After that, the paragraph opens up a whole can of worms…
“Alex incessantly pondered the first line of his post, the mounting pressure of crafting a perfect sentence compounded by the prospect of disappointing his girlfriend as though he had given her a cubic zirconium engagement ring.”
Yes, I know I used an adverb right out of the chute. So sue me…. 🙂 (to Alex’s other followers – he knows I am an attorney).
P.S. the opening to Hundred Years of Solitude grabbed me by the proverbial testicles and never let go. Showed him ice?
That’s an irresistible one, Lance. 😉
Oh, and unless the entire prompt is about not using adverbs, use adverbs to your heart’s content. We are not narration Nazis (NN) here. And by we I mean I.
True, true, that Solitude opening also sounds like emotional ice…
Love the NN acronym Alex. Seems like we get that mantra, “no adverbs”, beaten into our brains by every book and website on writing. Awesome post. As are all of them. But this one may be your best because of the broad analysis of so many openings of a host of masterful novels. Thanks for all your wonderful insight…
LANA NO LONGER NEEDS TO COOK TONIGHT…
“Oh bugger!… I’ll have to to sleep with the bastard, now.” Said Lana, as she watched the words smear across the page in black streaked rivulets of coffee. “If only I’d got that spare cartridge.” She shrugged, “Oh, well… at least he’ll pay for dinner.”
Ha, made me crack up. Charming…!
That previous piece was cobbled together quickly for your challenge.
The following is the opening of my current WIP… probably to be titled:
‘SELECTED’ – “Perverts, or not, Constable… Murder is still murder, OK?”
It’s the ninth book in my ‘Lena’s Friends’ crime series. (No.8 is finished, edited, and ready for publication)
Kevin Timpson took the boy’s money, tucking the notes into a roll of others, which he pocketed then handed a small plastic bag to the young man. He failed to notice the sudden look of fear that had appeared in the customer’s eyes as he snatched his merchandise and hurried away.
The young customer’s haste was mistaken for impatience to get to wherever he was going to be partying that night.
Kevin took out a packet of cigarettes, placed one between his lips and lit it with a disposable plastic lighter, which had been slid into the space inside the half empty pack. He replaced the lighter, then inhaled deeply before putting the pack back in his pocket.
Turning to walk away, he shuddered as he suddenly found himself face to face with a solidly built crop headed man who’d been standing silently only inches behind him. A few yards away, another man loitered in a doorway.
Kevin’s eyes opened wide in shock as the first man grinned at him coldly.
“Well, well, well… if it isn’t young Mr. Timpson…. You’re being a very naughty boy, aren’t you Kevin?”
The cigarette dropped from Kevin’s lips as his mouth opened to speak, but the words seemed to have trouble forming. All that came out was a hoarse squeaking sound.
The man continued to grin mirthlessly as he raised his hand. In the hand, Kevin could see a piece of iron bar, gripped firmly by fingers that would look more at home on a gorilla.
Kevin tried to flinch from it, as the iron bar came down hard, but it was to no avail as he felt an excruciating pain in his shoulder that completely blotted out the sound of his collar bone splintering.
Screaming, he collapsed to the floor, curling himself up in a vain attempt to protect himself as his assailant began kicking him.
Your stories are not for the faint of heart, Chris. Keep your comments coming!
Great article, Alex! I’ve been an editor for 27 years and am only now ready to write my own novel. It’s a retelling of the story of the Garden of Eden from the perspective of the much-maligned and greatly misunderstood Eve.
(For some reason, hitting the return key will not take me to another line or create a line space, so I will indicate where
paragraph 1 ends.) [¶ 1] I am Eve. Most of what you have been told about me is untrue./////////////////////////// [¶2]
The truth has been lost in time—in fact, for nearly thirty-eight thousand of your Earth standard years. But your world now holds a critical mass of individuals able to navigate a more complex conception of the cosmos and your place within it. Every day, I feel the yearning of those among you who long to hear the secrets of your human history. I am ready to tell my story—so that you might be free.
Hi Elianne! It’s about time you write your own stories, for sure.
I like your first paragraph, it’s simple but powerful.
Terrific and thought-provoking article as always. Thank you 🙂 How does this one work? (From my WIP novel)
“Despite the pain it evokes, I cannot deny the agonizing truth of twice having caused the death of someone I love.”
Hey Linda! That one certainly opens with a bang, and also plays with curiosity.
But stylistically, you might want to make it more straight-forward and appealing to read. Something along the lines of: “It hurts so much. But it’s the truth; I can’t deny it. I have caused the death of someone I loved twice.”
I like Linda’s choice of words. They give is a very measured feel. I’d simply put the first five words at the end instead.
“I cannot deny the agonizing truth of twice having caused the death of someone I love, despite the pain it evokes.”
If it’s dialogue, or simply spoken by a character to no one in particular, I’d also insert an ellipsis in the place of the comma before ‘despite’ to indicate a pause, as if a breath is being taken.
Thank you for this awesome article! I also think that your absolutely best posts are those that illustrate the tips with actual examples taken from great literature, such as this one and the early ones (Macbeth, Metamorphosis, Cherry Orchard, Ibsen etc.) It’s what makes your blog unique and hands-on unlike all the others that offer generic, purely theoretical and often vague advice! Keep’m comming!
I’m glad you like it; these posts are fun to write too.
Demonstrations always work much better for learning than simple theory. You will see more goodies soon. Cheers!
Lana wants to impress her boss with her latest audit report, but spills coffee all over the papers two minutes before the meeting. ————————————————— “Sexy sells,” Lana pouted into her handheld mirror. “And audit reports sell faster!” She trilled the last word as she adjusted the sheaf of papers for the girumpteenth time. “Mr. Grant will be so impressed.” The thought of his piercing green eyes set her skin on edge.
“Mr. Grant, I have the reports you needed.” “You know I need you, Lana.” “You tease.” The roleplaying made her squirm in her seat, shaking the coffee mug in her hand.
The dark liquid slushed all over the neat pile of papers. Lana gasped, then smiled.
“Mr. Grant, I made a mess.” “You naughty girl.”
She giggled again, and looked at the wall clock. Two minutes, then she’d be punished for being the naughty, naughty girl she knew she was. ————————-
Out of energy and creativity, so I threw all caution to the wind. Well, it was worth it. Thanks Alex!
You naughty, naughty readers you! Lana seems to inspire you guys (see Chris’ comment above).
Sexy sells… and that’s certainly true for authors too. Cheers, Eddie!
Here’ an opening from a fantasy romance
“Please my Queen, you must choose one to feed from.”
Intriguing, and right into the action with a dialogue line. Love it.
(Unfortunately, the comment box is refusing line breaks. You’ll see a • between paragraphs.) • From the dates in the comments, I see I’m lagging a bit with my arrival at the grand opening. But no matter, this opening keeps on opening forever. • The post is epic, Alex. Thank you! • OK, openings from story fragment clues (many excellent ones have been posted already) – • ~ Farmer ~ • I might as well eat them all myself, chicken soup for a month, than let the fox continue to depopulate the hen house. • ~ Lana ~ • “I didn’t know that in less than an hour I was going to tell the boss, ‘The audit is better than it looks. Guaranteed.'” • ~ Knights festival ~ • Some victories aren’t the real prize. • ~ Any of your own ~ • The beginning of a popcorn story: • “Hi. It’s me again. Cranky. Suffering that disrespectful name has been worth it since what happened yesterday.” • https://willbontrager.com/popcorn-stories/computer-immortal.php (A quick read. Under 500 words.) • Alex, the value of your website is tremendous. • Will
I love the variety of approaches you show in your openings. Makes for a nice, intriguing mix. Well done!
Alex, a note about the line breaks.
Within the text box: Instead of a line break, a space is published.
When it publishes: The line break publishes as intended.
I tested 3 browsers on Mac OS and Firefox is the only one with this strange behavior. Safari and Chrome work as expected.
Testing further, Firefox works as expected when a textarea field is tested on a separate page by itself on my development server. My guess is that Firefox and a CSS declaration aren’t playing nice.
I have no idea what to do about it other than dig into details and try this and that until the reason is found, so this is just an FYI.
Have a wonderful rest of the weekend.
I appreciate your investigations; it’s very kind of you to put some time into this. Will let my web developer handle it when I get to it. Cheers!
Although the examples given are all single sentences, cannot a good opening consist of two or more sentences? I see that some of the responses are not limited to a single sentence. This is the opening to my WIP: a novella. ” If the world was coming to an end, Annamarie would choose to be here, at Windsong. As things were, her world was due to end on Thursday. “
It can definitely consist of more than one sentence; and some of the openings in this post do. It also depends on how you count – where does an opening end?
I love yours; it does NOT cross the fine line between “witty” and “try-hard witty.”
Thanks for the great post, Alex, as always. So helpful. ‘They’ say not to start a story with dialogue. I wonder what you think. Here’s the beginning chapter of my WIP.
“Are you sure this is what you want, Bill?” Ron said, his brow furrowing when he saw the signed resignation letter Bill placed on his desk. “I’m absolutely sure, Ron,” Bill said with conviction. “I can hardly take one more day with someone who constantly puts the kibosh on me.” “Kibosh! Where do you get these words?” “Well, if you want to know the truth, a little birdie sits on my shoulder and tweets them to me. Then I look them up to see what they mean.” “Ha, ha, very funny, Bill, but I don’t have time for tweets right now. I’m swamped with work.” “All right, she’s a ball buster. I just can’t go on working for this firm as long as she’s here. Why, I’d even be willing to work for less money if I had to somewhere else, though that prospect is unlikely,” Bill said with bravado. He paused momentarily. An odd sensation of the plush carpet beneath his feet sinking a little, was unsettling.
Thank you, Sharon!
You can definitely start a story with dialogue, why not?
Your opening is a dynamic situation to start a story with. It introduces open questions begging to be answered, and also two (potentially) interesting characters.
Thanks, Alex, for your encouragement.
here is the opening lines (revised) to my unpublished novel Timeless Love Stories based on my true fairy tale romance.
The central mystery of Sam’s life began when he dreamt of meeting the woman of his dreams, and for eight years she haunted his dreams until one day she walked out of the dreams and into his life. The dream began one day in a high school physics class in Berkeley, California.
This was very interesting and has spawned a blog post of my own. 🙂 Here’s the opening of my WIP: Phame fingered the white pawn and opened the Tor browser from a USB drive.
Thanks for sharing, Patricia!
If I could be described in one word, it would be messy. My hair, my life, my relationships, and, even my job. I blot the coffee that seeped through the audit report that took two hours to print. I tried rubbing it, but that only smeared the freshly printed ink. Manfred will never take me seriously if I can’t even print a simple document and present it to him unsullied. I will remain at the bottom rung of the ladder indefinitely unless I can pull it together. I wipe the tear that threatened to spill, I don’t need anymore liquid near me. Two minutes until the meeting. If I print the first three pages again, maybe he won’t notice. I mean who really reads these things anyway.
“Lana!” Manfred bellowed. “Where’s my report?”
I shuffle the papers together and rush into the room. “Sorry sir, here you go.” I hand the documents over and scoot out of his office before he spots the brown rippled pages.
That’s a great beginning, Rainie, you got me hooked from the first sentence!
Plus, we already have a very good basic grasp of what this character is all about, after just a couple of sentences.
This website has been so helpful in me expanding my writing wheelhouse.
Awesome, Wheeler wheelhouse let´s goooooo!!!
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Table of Contents
How to Write a Great Opening Sentence
Examples of great first sentences (and how they did it), how to write a strong opening sentence & engage readers (with examples).
“I’ve never met you, but I’m gonna read your mind.”
That’s the opening line to The Scribe Method . It does what great opening sentences should: it immediately captures the reader’s attention. It makes them want to read more.
The purpose of a good opening line is to engage the reader and get them to start reading the book. That’s it.
It’s a fairly simple idea, and it works very well—but there are still a lot of misconceptions about book openings .
Many first-time Authors think they have to shock the reader to make them take note.
That’s not true. There are many ways to hook a reader that don’t require shocking them.
I also see Authors who think the purpose of the first paragraph is to explain what they’ll talk about in the book.
Not only is that wrong, it’s boring.
Readers can sense bullshit a mile away, so don’t try to beat them over the head with shock. Don’t give them a tedious summary. Don’t tell your life story. Don’t go into too much detail.
Use your first sentence to connect to the reader and make them want to keep reading.
This guide will help you write a great opening line so you can establish that authenticity and connection quickly.
Everyone knows some of the great opening lines from fiction novels:
- “Call me Ishmael.” – Herman Melville, Moby Dick
- “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” – Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
- “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” – Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
- “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 was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
The common thread between these opening lines is that they create a vivid first impression. They make the reader want to know more.
They’re punchy, intriguing, and unexpected.
The first words of a nonfiction book work the same way. You want to create an emotional connection with the reader so they can’t put the book down.
In some ways, nonfiction Authors even have an advantage. They’re writing about themselves and their knowledge while having a conversation with the reader.
They can establish the connection even more immediately because they don’t have to set a fictional scene. They can jump right in and use the first person “I.”
Let’s go back to The Scribe Method ‘s opening paragraph:
I’ve never met you, but I’m gonna read your mind. Not literally, of course. I’m going to make an educated guess about why you want to write a book.
When you read that, at a minimum, you’re going to think, “All right, dude, let’s see if you really know why I want to write a book .” And you’re going to keep reading.
At best, you’re going to think, “Wow. He’s inside my head right now.” And you’re going to keep reading.
In both cases, I’ve managed to create an emotional connection with the reader. Even if that emotion is skepticism, it’s enough to hook someone.
So where do you start when you’re writing your book? How do you form that connection?
The best hooks usually start in the middle of the highest intensity.
In other words, lead with the most emotional part of the story.
If you’re starting your book with a story about how you got chased by the police, don’t begin with what you had for breakfast that day. Start with the chase.
A good hook might also be a question or a claim—anything that will elicit an emotional response from a reader.
Think about it this way: a good opening sentence is the thing you don’t think you can say, but you still want to say.
Like, “This book will change your life.”
Or, “I’ve come up with the most brilliant way anyone’s ever found for handling this problem.”
Your opening sentence isn’t the time for modesty (as long as you can back it up!).
You want to publish a book for a reason . Now’s your chance to show a reader why they should want to read it.
That doesn’t mean you have to be cocky. You just have to be honest and engaging.
When you’re trying to come up with a great opening line, ask yourself these 3 things:
- What will the audience care about, be interested in, or be surprised by?
- What is the most interesting story or inflammatory statement in your book?
- What do you have to say that breaks the rules?
The best opening lines are gut punches.
They summarize the book, at least in an oblique way. But they’re not dry facts. They’re genuine, behind-the-scenes glimpses into a human life. They establish who you are and what you’re about, right from the beginning.
Human beings respond to genuine connection. That means being vulnerable. You have to break down any barriers that you might usually keep around you.
That’s one of the hardest things to do as an Author, but it makes for a great book.
Reading about perfection is boring, especially because we all know there’s no such thing.
In the next section, I’ll go through examples of great first sentences and explain why they work.
Every one of these strategies helps create an instant, authentic connection with readers. You just have to pick the one that makes the most sense for your book.
1. Revealing Personal Information
When most people think about comedian Tiffany Haddish, they think of a glamorous celebrity.
They don’t think about a kid who had trouble in school because she had an unstable home life, reeked of onions, and struggled with bullying.
From the first line of her book, Tiffany reveals that you’re going to learn things about her that you don’t know—personal things.
I mean, really personal.
The book’s opening story concludes with her trying to cut a wart off her face because she was teased so much about it (that’s where the “unicorn” nickname came from).
That level of personal connection immediately invites the reader in. It promises that the Author is going to be honest and vulnerable, no holds barred.
This isn’t going to be some picture-perfect memoir. It’s going to be real, and it’s going to teach you something.
And that’s what forms a connection.
2. Mirroring the Reader’s Pain
Geoffrey and I chose this opening sentence because it let readers know right away that we know their pain.
Not only that, we knew how to fix it .
If a reader picked up the book and didn’t connect to that opening line, they probably weren’t our target audience.
But if someone picked it up and said, “This is exactly what I want to know!” we already had them hooked.
They would trust us immediately because we proved in the first sentence that we understood them.
In this sentence, Geoffrey and I are positioned as the experts. People are coming to us for help.
But you can also mirror your reader’s pain more directly. Check out this example from Jennifer Luzzato’s book, Inheriting Chaos with Compassion :
That’s a gut punch for anyone. But it’s an even bigger one for Jennifer’s target audience: people who unexpectedly lose a loved one and are left dealing with financial chaos.
Jennifer isn’t just giving the reader advice.
She’s showing that she’s been through the pain. She understands it. And she’s the right person to help the reader solve it.
3. Asking the Reader a Question
Readers come to nonfiction books because they want help solving a problem.
If you picked up a book about team-building, culture, and leadership, you likely want answers to some questions.
Daniel Coyle’s book shows the reader, right off the bat, that he’s going to give you answers.
His question also isn’t a boring, how-do-organizations-work type of question.
It’s compelling enough to make you keep reading, at least for a few more sentences. And then ideally, a few sentences, pages, and chapters after that.
Starting with a question is often a variation on tactic number 2.
If the reader picked up your book hoping to solve a certain problem or learn how to do something, asking them that compelling question can immediately show them that you understand their pain.
It can set the stage for the whole book.
You can also pique the reader’s interest by asking them a question they’ve never thought about.
Nicholas Kusmich ‘s book Give starts with the question,
It’s a unique question that hooks a reader.
But the answer still cuts straight to the heart of his book: “Both entrepreneurs and superheroes want to use their skills to serve people and make the world a better place.”
The unexpected framing gives readers a fresh perspective on a topic they’ve probably already thought a lot about.
4. Shock the Reader
I said in the intro to this post that you don’t have to shock the reader to get their attention.
I never said you couldn’t .
If you’re going to do it, though, you have to do it well.
This is the best opening to a book I’ve ever read. I’m actually a dog person, so this shocked the hell out of me. It was gripping.
As you read, the sentence starts making more sense, but it stays just as shocking. And you can’t help but finish the page and the chapter to understand why. But my God, what a way to hook a reader (in case you are wondering, the dogs were licking up blood from dead bodies and giving away the soldiers’ positions to insurgents. They had to kill the dogs or risk being discovered).
I read this opening sentence as part of an excerpt from the book on Business Insider .
I plowed through the excerpt, bought the book on Kindle, canceled two meetings, and read the whole book.
5. Intrigue the Reader
If you don’t read that and immediately want to know what the realization was, you’re a force to be reckoned with.
People love reading about drama, screw-ups, and revelations. By leading with one, Will immediately intrigues his readers.
They’ll want to keep reading so they can solve the mystery. What was the big deal?
I’m not going to tell you and spoil the fun. You’ll have to check out Will’s book to find out.
There are other ways to be intriguing, too. For example, see the opening line to Lorenzo Gomez’ Cilantro Diaries :
Again, the Author is setting up a mystery.
He wants the reader to rack his brain and say, “Well, if it’s not the famous stuff, what is it?”
And then, when Lorenzo gets to the unexpected answer—the H-E-B grocery store—they’re even more intrigued.
Why would a grocery store make someone’s top-ten list, much less be the thing they’d miss most?
That kind of unexpected storytelling is perfect for keeping readers engaged.
The more intrigue you can create, the more they’ll keep turning the pages.
6. Lead with a Bold Claim
There are thousands of books about marketing. So, how does an Author cut through the noise?
If you’re David Allison, you cut right to the chase and lead with a bold claim.
You tell people you’re going to change the world. And then you tell them you have the data to back it up.
If your reader is sympathetic, they’re going to jump on board. If they’re skeptical, they’re still going to want to see if David’s claim holds up.
Here’s the thing, though: only start bold if you can back it up.
Don’t tell someone you’re going to transform their whole life and only offer a minor life hack. They’ll feel cheated.
But if you’re really changing the way that people think about something, do something, or feel about something, then lead with it.
Start big. And then prove it.
7. Be Empathetic and Honest
One Last Talk is one of the best books we’ve ever done at Scribe. And it shows right from the first sentence.
Philip starts with a bold claim: “If you let it, this book will change your life.”
But then he gives a caveat: it’s not going to be fun.
That’s the moment when he forms an immediate connection with the reader.
Many Authors will tell their readers, “This book will change your life. It’s going to be incredible! Just follow these steps and be on your way!”
Not many Authors will lead with, “It’s going to be worth it, but it’s going to be miserable.”
By being this upfront about the emotional work the book involves, Philip immediately proves to his readers that he’s honest and empathetic.
He understands what they’re going to go through. And he can see them through it, even if it sucks.
One piece of advice we give at Scribe is to talk to your reader like you’re talking to a friend.
Philip does that. And it shows the reader they’re dealing with someone authentic.
8. Invite the Reader In
Joey starts the book by speaking directly to the reader.
He immediately creates a connection and invites the reader in. This makes the book feel more like a conversation between two people than something written by a nameless, faceless Author.
The reason this tactic works so well is because Joey’s whole book is about never losing a customer.
He immediately puts the book’s principles into action.
From the first sentence, Joey’s demonstrating exactly what the reader is there to learn.
The Scribe Crew
Read this next.
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10 Good Paragraph Starters for All Your Writing Needs
It is very important to start a paragraph well. You need to try to summarize what you are about to say whilst also setting the reader up for what’s to come.
Mixing up your paragraph starters is quite essential as well. Figuring out how to start a paragraph can also be complicated, though. Everyone from newbie writers to more experienced ones will face difficulty in this regard.
Learning some phrases to start a paragraph can be quite useful. They can help you to diversify your writing. Following the same format, all the time can make your writing a little boring. The correct use of paragraph openers and sentence starters can help you form a coherent narrative in your writing. This is a great way to connect the various ideas you are trying to portray as well.
Types of Paragraph Starters
This sets the stage for your writing. Commonly used in academic and essay writing. The purpose of introductory paragraph starters is to introduce some of the ideas that will be discussed in the essay or paper. An important part of introductory paragraph starters is to help you avoid using “I” in your writing. Academic writing in particular does not view “I” statements favorably. You should opt for more generalized language in your paragraph starters to indicate the objective nature of your research. Here are some examples of introductory essay paragraph starters.
Here are some examples of introductory paragraph starters:
- In this essay
- Views on (example) are
- The central theme of
As you can see, all of these paragraph starters can help you lay out your ideas in an easy-to-read manner. But these are only the very beginnings of your sentences. Continuing and completing the sentence is important too. Here is an example of a complete introduction to a paragraph:
“Views on advances in artificial intelligence range from positive to negative. In this essay, the impact of artificial intelligence is explored.”
Your concluding paragraph matters. No matter how good your writing is, if you don’t wrap your essay up properly people might not absorb all of the information you have presented. People need a good closing paragraph to contextualize their essay. An abrupt ending can get in the way of that. The purpose of these types of paragraph starters is to transition into the conclusion of your essay or piece of writing.
While your concluding paragraph should tie back to your thesis statement, you should avoid repeating too much of it. Diversifying your concluding statement is useful because repetitive statements can take away from the veracity of your claims. Here are some examples of statements you can use to start a concluding paragraph:
- In conclusion
The last sentence of your concluding paragraph should offer users some closure. It should have an air of finality to it. A proper concluding paragraph can help the information sink in. As well as helping readers to think about the ideas and information that you have discussed.
A big part of presenting information is to compare it to something. This can be previously available information. Overarching narratives surrounding your field can be addressed as well. In this case, you will either be displaying similarities or differences. These paragraphs help to connect your essay to the background that you are drawing from. Not everyone will be familiar with this information. So it’s important that you use comparative paragraph starters to fill them in. Otherwise, they won’t have any information to compare what you are saying to.
Here are some examples of comparative paragraph starters:
- In comparison
- On the other hand
- Having said that
Creating comparisons is a very effective way of getting your message across. The bulk of your writing will consist of comparative paragraphs. This means that you will need as many comparative paragraph starters as you can find. Refuting or confirming preexisting information is a big part of academic writing and essays.
Simply presenting information will make your writing really dry. Examples can help illustrate what you are talking about. Much of your essay will involve you repeating the same point. This is usually considered a sign of bad writing. But it is unavoidable in academic writing. So you need to use examples to convey your point without getting repetitive. Examples can demonstrate your ideas in real-world scenarios. People need them to draw their own conclusions about what you are trying to say. You don’t want them just repeating your words after all. Rather, you would want them to obtain a deeper understanding of your work.
Example paragraph starters might seem easy. A simple “for example” will work. But you have to provide lots of examples in your writing. Using “for example” repeatedly will make your writing seem unprofessional. It also ruins a reader’s ability to immerse themselves in your writing.
Here are some alternatives to “for example” that you can use as paragraph starters:
- To illustrate
- For instance
You can also add exampling statements in the middle of your opening sentence. Here are some examples:
- …as shown by
- …as can be observed
- …which can be seen in
Mixing your statements up can help you provide examples without wearing the reader down. You need to keep offering something new. Otherwise, the reader might lose interest. Diverse exampling statements can keep your readers invested in what you have written. Your main priority should be getting them to the end of your essay after all.
- Idea Adding
We stated previously that comparative statements will form the bulk of your paragraph starters. This holds true, but adding ideas that you can compare is essential as well. Transitioning from one idea to the next can help create a smooth narrative. So many of your ideas will come in the middle of a paragraph. But you would still need to provide start certain paragraphs off with ideas as well. These examples can help you introduce ideas in your writing:
- Here we will discuss
- In this paper
- To elaborate
Sometimes you would want to refer to an idea halfway through your sentence. This is done in a comparative manner. These paragraph and sentence starters can help you with this:
- As a result
Over time you will learn to use these statements to connect your ideas. Developing a theme in your essay makes the ideas more pronounced. Make sure that you use these statements carefully.
- Time Connective
You should try writing as if you are constructing a timeline. Ideas should be presented sequentially. The sequence can be pieced together slowly through the use of time connective paragraph starters. Presenting an idea or a comparison at the start of a paragraph won’t always work. Sometimes you need to remind readers of where they are on the timeline you have constructed. These sentence starters also help provide context regarding the history of your field or discipline.
These paragraph starters are fairly simple. “Firstly”, “secondly” and so on can all work well here. You can also use words like “before” and “afterwards” as well as “eventually”.
Tips to Help You Write Better Paragraphs
The types of paragraph starters we have provided above will help you improve your writing. But you will also need a few general tips that you can follow. It would be best if you didn’t look at these tips as rules. Instead, see them as a general guideline. You can choose which tips you want to implement based on your preferences. As you develop experience you will start to get an idea of what you should use where.
- Avoid Using “However”
This is a very versatile word. But its versatility often leads to it being overused. There are plenty of alternative words that you can use instead. “That said”, “conversely”, “although” and “regardless” can all be used to substitute however. This adds some variety to your writing. Comparative paragraphs can become a chore if you have to avoid using “however”. But overusing this word will do a lot more harm than good. This is why you should try some of the examples that we have given.
- Try Starting With Adverbs
Adverbs are great for connecting your ideas. They often don’t do much good in the middle of a sentence. You should try starting your sentences out with them. This helps you avoid some of the pitfalls of starting sentences. Using adverbs as paragraphs starters might make your writing a little informal. So you should be careful about where and when you use them. But sprinkling them in sparingly works really well. Some examples of adverbs are “similarly” and “fortunately. Modifying any adjective and adding verb-like attributes to it will turn it into an adverb.
You can also use these words to transition from one paragraph to the next. Transitory paragraph starters are vital for connecting your ideas. Adverbs are the most effective way to make this transition as smooth as possible.
- Avoid Coordinating Conjunctions (Sometimes)
The oldest rule of writing that we all tend to learn in school is to never start a sentence with a coordinating conjunction, let alone a paragraph. Starting a sentence with “but” or “and” can often make your writing seem amateurish.
That said, this rule is not as hard and fast as you might expect. Teachers only teach children to avoid starting sentences with “and” and “but” because this can help children to learn how to write differently from how they speak. It’s more of a mindset tool and a training exercise rather than a strict rule that should always be followed.
You can use coordinating conjunctions in certain situations. “But” can be a reasonable replacement for “however” for example. Similarly, you can use “and” as a replacement for “additionally” which is another really overused sentence starter.
There are lots of other coordinating conjunctions as well such as “yet” and “so”. These conjunctions are perfectly acceptable to start a sentence with. Most rules surrounding starting sentences with coordinating conjunctions focus on “but” and “and”. We have shown you how these words can be used without breaking any writing rules.
- Use Dependent Clauses Where Applicable
Dependent clauses can deliver a softer entry into a paragraph. Starting every paragraph with a noun can become tiresome. Clauses like “while” and “as” are perfect for these types of uses. “Because” is a dependent clause that we are often taught not to use. But this is just another example of a childhood rule that’s not as important as you might think.
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25 Best Suggestions For Novel Openers
November is National Novel Writing Month ("NaNoWriMo"), a challenge to write a novel in 30 days. Twitter has suggested a few ideas for a first sentence. For the record, I'd read all of these.
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Katie Notopoulos is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Contact this reporter at [email protected].
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How to Begin an Essay: 13 Engaging Strategies
ThoughtCo / Hugo Lin
- Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
- M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
- B.A., English, State University of New York
An effective introductory paragraph both informs and motivates. It lets readers know what your essay is about and it encourages them to keep reading.
There are countless ways to begin an essay effectively. As a start, here are 13 introductory strategies accompanied by examples from a wide range of professional writers.
State Your Thesis Briefly and Directly
But avoid making your thesis a bald announcement, such as "This essay is about...".
"It is time, at last, to speak the truth about Thanksgiving, and the truth is this. Thanksgiving is really not such a terrific holiday...." (Michael J. Arlen, "Ode to Thanksgiving." The Camera Age: Essays on Television . Penguin, 1982)
Pose a Question Related to Your Subject
Follow up the question with an answer, or an invitation for your readers to answer the question.
"What is the charm of necklaces? Why would anyone put something extra around their neck and then invest it with special significance? A necklace doesn't afford warmth in cold weather, like a scarf, or protection in combat, like chain mail; it only decorates. We might say, it borrows meaning from what it surrounds and sets off, the head with its supremely important material contents, and the face, that register of the soul. When photographers discuss the way in which a photograph reduces the reality it represents, they mention not only the passage from three dimensions to two, but also the selection of a point de vue that favors the top of the body rather than the bottom, and the front rather than the back. The face is the jewel in the crown of the body, and so we give it a setting." (Emily R. Grosholz, "On Necklaces." Prairie Schooner , Summer 2007)
State an Interesting Fact About Your Subject
" The peregrine falcon was brought back from the brink of extinction by a ban on DDT, but also by a peregrine falcon mating hat invented by an ornithologist at Cornell University. If you cannot buy this, Google it. Female falcons had grown dangerously scarce. A few wistful males nevertheless maintained a sort of sexual loitering ground. The hat was imagined, constructed, and then forthrightly worn by the ornithologist as he patrolled this loitering ground, singing, Chee-up! Chee-up! and bowing like an overpolite Japanese Buddhist trying to tell somebody goodbye...." (David James Duncan, "Cherish This Ecstasy." The Sun , July 2008)
Present Your Thesis as a Recent Discovery or Revelation
"I've finally figured out the difference between neat people and sloppy people. The distinction is, as always, moral. Neat people are lazier and meaner than sloppy people." (Suzanne Britt Jordan, "Neat People vs. Sloppy People." Show and Tell . Morning Owl Press, 1983)
Briefly Describe the Primary Setting of Your Essay
"It was in Burma, a sodden morning of the rains. A sickly light, like yellow tinfoil, was slanting over the high walls into the jail yard. We were waiting outside the condemned cells, a row of sheds fronted with double bars, like small animal cages. Each cell measured about ten feet by ten and was quite bare within except for a plank bed and a pot of drinking water. In some of them brown silent men were squatting at the inner bars, with their blankets draped round them. These were the condemned men, due to be hanged within the next week or two." (George Orwell, "A Hanging," 1931)
Recount an Incident That Dramatizes Your Subject
"One October afternoon three years ago while I was visiting my parents, my mother made a request I dreaded and longed to fulfill. She had just poured me a cup of Earl Grey from her Japanese iron teapot, shaped like a little pumpkin; outside, two cardinals splashed in the birdbath in the weak Connecticut sunlight. Her white hair was gathered at the nape of her neck, and her voice was low. “Please help me get Jeff’s pacemaker turned off,” she said, using my father’s first name. I nodded, and my heart knocked." (Katy Butler, "What Broke My Father's Heart." The New York Times Magazine , June 18, 2010)
Use the Narrative Strategy of Delay
The narrative strategy of delay allows you to put off identifying your subject just long enough to pique your readers' interest without frustrating them.
"They woof. Though I have photographed them before, I have never heard them speak, for they are mostly silent birds. Lacking a syrinx, the avian equivalent of the human larynx, they are incapable of song. According to field guides the only sounds they make are grunts and hisses, though the Hawk Conservancy in the United Kingdom reports that adults may utter a croaking coo and that young black vultures, when annoyed, emit a kind of immature snarl...." (Lee Zacharias, "Buzzards." Southern Humanities Review , 2007)
Use the Historical Present Tense
An effective method of beginning an essay is to use historical present tense to relate an incident from the past as if it were happening now.
"Ben and I are sitting side by side in the very back of his mother’s station wagon. We face glowing white headlights of cars following us, our sneakers pressed against the back hatch door. This is our joy—his and mine—to sit turned away from our moms and dads in this place that feels like a secret, as though they are not even in the car with us. They have just taken us out to dinner, and now we are driving home. Years from this evening, I won’t actually be sure that this boy sitting beside me is named Ben. But that doesn’t matter tonight. What I know for certain right now is that I love him, and I need to tell him this fact before we return to our separate houses, next door to each other. We are both five." (Ryan Van Meter, "First." The Gettysburg Review , Winter 2008)
Briefly Describe a Process That Leads Into Your Subject
"I like to take my time when I pronounce someone dead. The bare-minimum requirement is one minute with a stethoscope pressed to someone’s chest, listening for a sound that is not there; with my fingers bearing down on the side of someone’s neck, feeling for an absent pulse; with a flashlight beamed into someone’s fixed and dilated pupils, waiting for the constriction that will not come. If I’m in a hurry, I can do all of these in sixty seconds, but when I have the time, I like to take a minute with each task." (Jane Churchon, "The Dead Book." The Sun , February 2009)
Reveal a Secret or Make a Candid Observation
"I spy on my patients. Ought not a doctor to observe his patients by any means and from any stance, that he might the more fully assemble evidence? So I stand in doorways of hospital rooms and gaze. Oh, it is not all that furtive an act. Those in bed need only look up to discover me. But they never do." ( Richard Selzer , "The Discus Thrower." Confessions of a Knife . Simon & Schuster, 1979)
Open with a Riddle, Joke, or Humorous Quotation
You can use a riddle , joke, or humorous quotation to reveal something about your subject.
" Q: What did Eve say to Adam on being expelled from the Garden of Eden? A: 'I think we're in a time of transition.' The irony of this joke is not lost as we begin a new century and anxieties about social change seem rife. The implication of this message, covering the first of many periods of transition, is that change is normal; there is, in fact, no era or society in which change is not a permanent feature of the social landscape...." (Betty G. Farrell, Family: The Making of an Idea, an Institution, and a Controversy in American Culture . Westview Press, 1999)
Offer a Contrast Between Past and Present
"As a child, I was made to look out the window of a moving car and appreciate the beautiful scenery, with the result that now I don't care much for nature. I prefer parks, ones with radios going chuckawaka chuckawaka and the delicious whiff of bratwurst and cigarette smoke." (Garrison Keillor, "Walking Down The Canyon." Time , July 31, 2000)
Offer a Contrast Between Image and Reality
A compelling essay can begin with a contrast between a common misconception and the opposing truth.
"They aren’t what most people think they are. Human eyes, touted as ethereal objects by poets and novelists throughout history, are nothing more than white spheres, somewhat larger than your average marble, covered by a leather-like tissue known as sclera and filled with nature’s facsimile of Jell-O. Your beloved’s eyes may pierce your heart, but in all likelihood they closely resemble the eyes of every other person on the planet. At least I hope they do, for otherwise he or she suffers from severe myopia (near-sightedness), hyperopia (far-sightedness), or worse...." (John Gamel, "The Elegant Eye." Alaska Quarterly Review , 2009)
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50 "Open Letter" Topics To Overcome Writer's Block
Got writers block here are some “open letter” topics you could use to squish your writers block..
“Open letters” are my favorite type of articles to read. Got writers block? Here are some “open letter” topics you could use to squish your writers block.
1. Open letter to your parent/guardian
2. Open letter to a sibling
3. Open letter to the graduating senior. (high school or college)
4.Open letter to your best friend
5. Open letter to your significant other
6. Open letter to someone no longer with us
7. Open letter to someone who lives far away
8. Open letter to a mental illness (anxiety/depression etc.)
9. Open letter to your coworkers
10. Open letter to your boss
11. Open letter to your favorite teacher
12. Open letter to your guidance councilor
13. Open letter to your pet
14. Open letter to an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend
15. Open letter to your past self
16. Open letter to your future self
17.Open letter to your son or daughter
18. Open letter to an old friend
19. Open letter to your favorite place
20. Open letter to your favorite singer
21. Open letter to President-Elect Trump
22. Open letter to your grandparents
23. Open letter to favorite store
24. Open letter to your favorite artist
25. Open letter to your favorite photographer
26. Open letter to a bully
27. Open letter to someone who inspired you
28. Open letter to the person who doubted you
29. Open letter to my sisters/brother’s significant other
30. Open letter to school
31. Open letter to your roommate
32. Open letter to your professors (good or bad)
33. Open letter to the boy/girl who broke your heart
34. Open letter to your best friend’s parents
35. Open letter to your favorite author
36. Open letter to your YouTube celebrity
37. Open letter to a fictional character
38. Open letter to a TV star
39. Open letter to your favorite athlete
40. Open letter to your favorite politician
41. Open letter to your favorite superhero/villain
42. Open letter to your favorite dancer
43. Open letter to your favorite neighbor
44. Open letter to your therapist
45. Open letter to your mentor
46. Open letter to your “person”
47. Open letter to your step parent who is so much more
48. Open letter to your dream college
49. Open letter to your favorite band
50. Open letter to someone writing an open letter
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21 edm songs for a non-edm listener, ever wanted to check out edm music, but didn't know where to start look no further start here..
If you have been following me for a long time, then you know I write about two main things: relateable articles and communication media based articles. Now, it is time for me to combine the two. For those of you that don't know, I am a radio DJ at IUP, and I DJ for a show called BPM (Beats Per Minute). It is an EDM, or electronic dance music, based show and I absolutely love it.
Believe it or not, I never really listened to EDM before I started deejaying. I knew the big wigs; Skrillex, Deadmau5, Calvin Harris and Aviici, just to name a few; but I did not know that EDM music is more than just hard dubstep or the more pop-influenced EDM songs we hear on top 40 radio. Now I absolutely love it. I find it to be a cool genre of music in general because it has so many styles, and I'm always looking for new songs to play on my show. If you're interested in listening to EDM music, then today is your lucky day! Below are 21 EDM songs that range in style, but should ease the non-EDM listener into the world of electronic dance music. This list also gets you away from more popular DJs like Calvin Harris, Zedd, The Chainsmokers and David Guetta.
1. "Ready or Not" - Madison Mars 2. "Blackout" - Tritonal featuring Steph Jones 3. "Stepping Stone" - Lemaitre and Mark Johns 4. "Heartless" - Jacob Tillerberg featuring Jonning 5. "Electric Elephants" - Jay Hardway 6. "Do You Don't You" - Haywyre 7. "Top of the World" - Stephen Walking 8. "Faded" - Alan Walker 9. "Jaguar" - WhatSoNot 10. "Paralyzed" -DM Galaxy featuring Tyler Fiore 11. "Colour" - Marshmello 12. "Maybe" - Carmada 13. "Off The Hook" - Hardwell and Armin van Buuren 14. "Secrets" - Tiesto, KSHMR, and VASSY 15. "Aftergold" - Big Wild 16. "On My Mind" - Don Diablo 17. "Electric Feel -Justice Remix" - MGMT and Justice 18. "Summit" - Skrillex featuring Ellie Goulding 19. "Must Stop the Feeling" - NERO 20. "Feel" - Mahmut Orhan featuring Sena Sener 21. " Daydream" - One Bit and N/A
This is one new song to listen to every day for three weeks. Hopefully listening to some of these songs will bring you in to the world of electronic dance music. If you listen to this particular list, you'll see how diverse the genre is, ranging from dubstep, trap, to chillstep music. Check it out, maybe you'll be like me and fall in love with this music, if not then that's cool too. You had a new listening experience, and that's all that matters.
100 Reasons to Choose Happiness
Happy moments to brighten your day.
As any other person on this planet, it sometimes can be hard to find the good in things. However, as I have always tried my hardest to find happiness in any and every moment and just generally always try to find the best in every situation, I have realized that your own happiness is much more important than people often think. Finding the good in any situation can help you to find happiness in some of the simplest and unexpected places.
Many people often think that happiness can be found by creating the largest social media pool, trying to be someone that they are not in order to be accepted or even having the nicest car or the biggest house. But happiness does not come from these material or “fake” things. It comes from strong connections with people you love, having gratitude and consideration for the people around you and finding happiness in the most unexpected and often overlooked places.
Constantly reminding yourself that your happiness is one of the most important things and sometimes having to put your happiness first is something that should be happening every day. Personally, my happiness comes from thousands of things ranging from reading a book all the way to vacationing to the ocean and everything in between. Also, I find happiness in the happiness of others and seeing others in content, but this also sometimes means that I do not put my happiness first.
Everyone has their flaws and many people are like me—forgetting to put their happiness before others. Therefore, in order to give you just a simple idea of how easy it is to find happiness in the smallest of places, here are 100 reminders of happiness that surround you each and every day. This list also purposes for each of you to think of your own reminders that make you happy and to tell yourself that your happiness is important and that you should always find happiness in every situation in the most unexpected places.
- You are loved by more than you could ever imagine.
- You have a home.
- Flowers are blooming around you.
- Summer is closer than it has been all year.
- You talked to someone you love today.
- You are beautiful.
- Listening to the rain hit the roof when you fall asleep.
- Freshly mowed grass.
- Watching the stars at night.
- Someone in your life wants you to be happy.
- You have food to eat and water to drink.
- Chocolate is still existing.
- There are dogs to pet and to cuddle with.
- You are talented and have a special talent that no one else knows about.
- Listening to music.
- One Direction .
- You are able to help someone.
- Volunteering for a charity.
- Sitting on a dock.
- Taking pictures with your best friends.
- Going to a cabin.
- You have cute clothes to wear every day.
- Someone said, “Hi” to you today.
- Someone thinks you are the most important person in their life.
- Someone looks up to you.
- You have a job or some other commitment.
- You believe in something.
- Someone believes in you.
- Listening to the birds chirping outside.
- Finding a dandelion in the middle of a grassy lawn.
- Starbucks is a thing.
- You have or will see the Northern Lights.
- Vacations or camping or nights out.
- Spontaneous road trips .
- You can do anything that you set your mind to.
- You believe in someone else.
- Warm, melty chocolate chip cookies.
- You matter.
- Chicken noodle soup when you are sick .
- Grey’s Anatomy/One Tree Hill/Gossip Girl.
- Freshly cleaned sheets.
- You have dreams and goals .
- You are inspiring .
- You are inspired by something or someone else.
- Bright colored daisies.
- Reading your favorite book over and over again.
- Coming home and changing into an over-sized sweatshirt and leggings.
- Going out and dressing up.
- But feeling confident in both.
- Sleeping in on Sunday mornings.
- Getting up to watch the sunrise.
- Surprising someone or being surprised.
- Art museums.
- Good nights and good morning’s.
- Laughing, laughing, laughing.
- Making someone else laugh.
- Board games.
- Rainy days.
- Sunny days.
- You are vibrant and radiant.
- Bare feet in the sand.
- Highlighting quotes in your favorite books .
- Seeing others happy.
- Seeing couples holding hands.
- Your mother, father, sister, brother, grandpa , grandma, aunt, uncle, cousins, etc.
- Putting your music on shuffle and having your favorite song come on first.
- Did I mention One Direction?
- Oh, and Beyoncé.
- Saltwater and sea shells.
- Loving something or someone with the strongest passion.
- Being the only one on the court/field/track/ice.
- Feeling invincible.
- Conquering one of your fears.
- Listening to someone’s heartbeat.
- Talking to someone about their favorite things or memories.
- Disney movies.
- God , Jesus and your faith.
- Girls’/Guys’ night.
- Airports and airplanes.
- Acing a hard test or failing and learning from it.
- Sleeping with the window open.
- Being there for someone no matter what.
- Trusting someone.
- You are the best at something.
- You are someone’s best friend .
- Chocolate still exists.
- You can move mountains.
- Your happiness is the most important.
6 Things Owning A Cat Has Taught Me
This one's for you, spock..
Owning a pet can get difficult and expensive. Sometimes, their vet bills cost hundreds of dollars just for one visit. On top of that, pets also need food, a wee wee pad for a dog , a litter box with litter for a cat, toys, and treats. Besides having to spend hundreds of dollars on them, they provide a great companion and are almost always there when you need to talk to someone. For the past six years, I have been the proud owner of my purebred Bengal cat named Spock. Although he's only seven years and four months old, he's taught me so much. Here's a few of the things that he has taught me.
It's ok to not know what you want.
If I said that he knew what he wanted at all times, I'd be lying. Sometimes, he'll want to be in the living room watching television. Sometimes, he'll want to sit on the bathmat and not let people use the bathroom in peace. At other times, he'll hide under the table in either the kitchen or the living room - or, he'll jump up on a chair or on a shelf. Owning Spock has taught me that it's fine to not know what you want because things change, and those changes could impact your decisions on what you want for yourself.
It's fine if you just want to be by yourself for a bit.
Sometimes, all we want to do is be left alone. The same applies for animals - especially for Spock. Everyone deserves some alone time for just themselves. If some of your so called friends can't respect that, then maybe they just don't respect you as a person and as their friend, and maybe you should reconsider your friendship with that person. Owning Spock has taught me this via his actions of always running away from people when all he wants to do is be alone.
It's ok to eat what you want whenever you want without feeling embarrassed about it.
With Spock, he begs for food at least four times an hour. He doesn't care if you just fed him - he will beg you for more food. Owning Spock has taught me that sometimes, you just need to eat that piece of cheesecake or that salad when you feel like it. By the end of the day, you're choosing to put whatever food you want to in your body, and you shouldn't have to provide anyone with an explanation of that.
It's ok to have some sass.
Sometimes, we're in a situation that we usually don't want to be in - like a fight with a friend, family member, the person you're in a relationship with, a group project partner, and so on. Owning Spock has taught me that you just need to do what you need to do when you're in an uncomfortable situation - and if that means adding some sass into what you're doing, then do it.
It's ok to take a nap at any time of the day.
Sometimes, we're just flat out tired and need to take a nap in order to feel refreshed. With Spock, he enjoys taking a nap about what seems like twenty times a day. Does he feel bad about it? No. It's probably because he knows he's tired and wants to gain some more energy. The same applies to us humans - so go take that nap that you've been wanting to take and don't feel bad about it.
Document the important things and moments within your life.
It's not a surprise that we all get older and experience a lot of important things and moments within our lives. Although it may seem annoying to have to constantly pull out your phone or your camera that you love using for everything to document the moment or important thing that you're going through, you won't regret it later. You'll have photos that you'll look back on later in life and you'll have memories to share with your friends and family. With that being said, here are some photos of Spock as he's gotten older.
Kinder Self - Eyes
You're your own best friend.
It's fun to see all of the selfies on social media, they are everywhere. I see pictures with pouty lips, duck lips and pucker lips. I see smokey eyes, huge fake lashes and nicely done nose jobs, boob jobs and butt lifts. Women working out in spandex, tiny tops and flip flops. I see tight abs and firm butts, manicured nails and toes, up dos and flowing hair. "Wow", I think to myself," I could apply tons of make-up, spend an hour on my hair, pose all day and not look like that. Maybe I need a longer stick!"
I went shopping, to a trendy store, yesterday. Really cute clothes. I was trying on this adorable sun dress when I caught a glimpse of my, not so defined, arms in the mirror. UGH! I nearly said it out loud . Then I remembered seeing my friend in a similar dress thinking how cool, comfortable and cute she looked. "She's about my size", I thought..."Maybe, I just look bad in my eyes".
Why are we so hard on ourselves? Why do we base our self esteem on our deflated self perception? Why do we compare ourselves with other women? Why do we find physical flaws that friends never notice...until we point them out? Why are we consistently critical of how we look?
Time to let it go, to start treating ourselves like we treat our friends, that is...if you are a good friend...It's okay to take a good look, evaluate and make an honest assessment. That's the only way to make adjustments...with kinder eyes. Eyes that are accepting, loving and gentle.
That way the selfie stick wont have to be so long, I'll wear my new dress, duck lip it with my red lips, smokey eyes and mascaraed lashes...and gaze upon it, as though I didn't know me, with kinder self-eyes.
Rap Songs With A Deeper Meaning
Rap is more than the f-bomb and a beat. read what artists like fetty, schoolboy q, drake, and 2pac can teach you..
On the surface, rap songs may carry a surface perception of negativity. However, exploring their lyrics reveals profound hidden depth.Despite occasional profanity, it's crucial to look beyond it. Rap transcends mere wordplay; these 25 song lyrics impart valuable life lessons , offering insights that extend beyond the conventional perception of rap music.
1. "I ain't rich yet, but you know I ain't broke" -- "White Iverson" by Post Malone
You might not be successful yet, but you're not a failure either, so keep doing what you're doing.
2. "I only love it when you touch me, not feel me / When I'm f***ed up, that's the real me" -- "The Hills" by The Weekend
Don't blame it on the alcohol because the real you comes out when you have alcohol in your system.
3. "You gon' have to do more than just (say it)" -- "Say It" by Tony Lanez
Actions speak louder than words.
4. "He only f***ed you over cause you let him" -- "Don't" by Bryson Tiller
Yes, he screwed you over, and that's not cool, but you let that happen to you. Have more self-worth and don't let guys screw you over.
5. "I try to forget but it's hard to forgive" -- "Thought It Was a Drought" by Future
Forgive, but never forget.
6. "Whatever happened just had to happen" -- "I Know" by Big Sean ft. Jhené Aiko
Everything happens for a reason.
7. "It goes down in the DM (it go down) it go down in the DM (it go down, it go... down)" -- "Down In the DM" by Yo Gotti
Welcome to our generation's form of dating . If he/she DM's you, it is about to go down.
8. "I mean who am I to hold your past against you?" -- "Work" by Rihanna ft. Drake
The past is the past.
9. "See your heart ain't meant for breaking" -- "Studio" by Schoolboy Q ft. BJ The Chicago Kid
Hearts are not meant for breaking!!!
1 0. "Change the game sh*t, like it ain't sh*t'" -- "I'm On" by Lil Debbie
Change the game with no effort and with confidence.
11. "Let's get caught in the moment " -- "Promises" by Wiz Khalifa
Take time and smell the roses.
12. "I can see them haters talkin' / But it do not phase me" -- "Made Me" by Snootie Wild ft. K Camp
Don't let people get to you. If someone is hating on you, you must be doing something right.
1 3. "F*** with me, then I f**k with you / You don't f**k with me, my n**** f*** you too" -- "F*ck With You" by Tyga
Treat others how you want to be treated.
14. "They tryna take my blessin's away" -- "Alright" by Logic ft. Big Sean
People are always going to try to take away your happiness.
15. "You getting on my nerves with them questions" -- "Come Get Her" by Rae Sremmurd
Questioning a person is annoying -- have some trust.
16. "I don't f*** with these niggas cause they shady" -- "Preach" by Young Dolph
People are shady and you need to be careful who you surround yourself with.
17. "Let's just be honest, let's just be real" -- "Be Real" by Kid Ink ft. DeJ Loaf
Honesty is the best policy.
18. "I'm already in love with myself / So in love with myself" -- "F*ck Love" by Iggy Azalea
Love yourself !
19. "Don't waste time, I got six watches" -- "Flex (Ooh, Ooh, Ooh)" by Rich Homie Quan
Time is money, so don't waste mine or yours.
20. "There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas - probably in Tennessee that says fool me once, shame on - shame on you. If you fool me we can't get fooled again" -- "No Role Modelz" by J. Cole
You can only make a mistake once because the next time you make the same mistake, it was a choice.
21. "Solo ride until I die/ Cause I got me for life" -- "Me, Myself & I" by G-Eazy ft. Bebe Rexha
Sometimes you're the only one that has you and that's okay.
22. "Cause I'm troubled by the things that I see" -- "Good Lovin" by Ludacris
The world can be a cold, troubling place.
23. "See you had a lot of crooks tryna steal your heart" -- "How to Love" by Lil Wayne
Don't settle for a crook, because if he steals your heart, he can break it.
24. "I ain't playing no games, I need you" -- "Again" by Fetty Wap
Games will get you nowhere, so be like Fetty and don't play no games, because, more than likely, we need you too.
25. "It's a struggle everyday, gotta roll on" -- "Everyday Struggle" by 2Pac
Life is hard, but you just have to keep on keeping on.
Songs About Being 17 Grey's Anatomy Quotes Vine Quotes 4 Leaf Clover Self Respect
1. Brittany Morgan, National Writer's Society 2. Radhi, SUNY Stony Brook 3. Kristen Haddox , Penn State University 4. Jennifer Kustanovich , SUNY Stony Brook 5. Clare Regelbrugge , University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
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The Top Things to Do in Moscow
As a vibrant capital and Europe’s largest city, Moscow is a powerful mix of history and edginess, full of world-famous sites. Russia ’s capital was just a small town when it was first recorded 800 years ago, but there is enough here today to keep you busy for months. Here’s the ultimate first-timer’s list of things to do in Moscow, from exploring the Kremlin and St Basil’s Cathedral to getting a cable car from Sparrow Hills or skating in Gorky Park.
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The heart of Russia’s capital, Red Square is surrounded by striking sites including the Kremlin, St Basil’s Cathedral and Lenin’s Mausoleum, and is where so much of the country’s history has unfolded. What was once a humble market square has become known as the place where rebels have been executed, protests staged and military strength put on show throughout Russia’s tumultuous history.
St Basil’s Cathedral
However long you’re visiting Moscow for, you must set aside some time to soak up the archetypal image of Russia’s capital with the glistening rainbow roofs of St Basil’s Cathedral. The onion-shaped domes were designed to make the building look like flames on a bonfire. The cathedral was commissioned in the 1500s by Ivan the Terrible and according to legend, the Tsar thought it so beautiful he ordered that the architect be blinded so they would never surpass this creation.
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The love-it-or-hate-it of Russia attractions, Lenin’s Mausoleum houses a glass sarcophagus containing the embalmed body of the legendary Russian revolutionary, Vladimir Lenin. First opened to the public in August 1924, the Mausoleum attracts around 2.5m visitors a year, who presumably don’t mind queueing and going through a thorough search to enter Lenin’s presence.
The biggest active fortress in Europe , Moscow’s Kremlin offers a week’s worth of attractions on its own. Once you get behind the 2,235m (7,332ft) of walls, there are five squares to wander around, various buildings to explore, 20 towers to learn the names of, and the world’s largest bell and cannon to see.
State Historical Museum
An attraction in its own right, the State Historical Museum, founded in 1872 by Ivan Zabelin and Aleksey Uvarov, was once the principal medicine store, also containing antiquaries owned by the royal family. It now houses an impressive collection, which includes relics of prehistoric tribes that once inhabited the territory of present-day Russia, the country’s largest coin collection, as well as 6th-century manuscripts and artworks collected by the Romanov dynasty, among other treasures.
Russia’s main department store, GUM’s stunning interior houses a variety of high-end boutiques. Built between 1890 and 1893 and known as the Upper Trading Rows until the 1920s, the legendary store is now home to over 100 boutiques selling a variety of brands: from luxurious Dior to the more affordable Zara. Even if shopping is not on your list of what to do in Moscow, the GUM is still worth a visit; the glass-roofed arcade faces Red Square and offers a variety of classy eateries.
An elegant, pedestrianised street right in the historic city centre, Arbat is one of Moscow’s most touristy spots. With lots of cafes and restaurants , live music performers and caricaturists, as well as souvenir shops and tattoo parlours, monuments and a theatre, Arbat draws crowds of visitors every day.
Built between 1900 and 1905, Tretyakov Gallery started as the private collection of the Tretyakov brothers, who were 19th-century philanthropists. Designed by Viktor Vasnetsov, the gallery is home to one of the largest collections of Russian art in the world. Here you can see icons including Rublev’s Trinity, and pre-revolutionary masterpieces such as Girl With Peaches by Valentin Serov, Demon by Mikhail Vrubel and The Rooks Have Come Back by Alexei Savrasov.
Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts
The largest foreign art museum in Moscow comprises three branches housing a collection of incredible works by masters of ancient civilisations, the Italian Renaissance and the Dutch Golden Age. The main building contains masterpieces by Botticelli, Tiepolo, Veronese and Rembrandt, some of which had never been displayed before. The Gallery of European and American Art, located next door, stores an incredible collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings.
Moscow’s premier green space, Gorky Park offers entertainment for every taste: outdoor dancing sessions, yoga and fitness classes all summer, as well as beach volleyball and ping-pong, rollerblading, skateboarding and cycling opportunities, along with Segway and boat rentals. In winter, half the park turns into one of the city’s biggest ice skating rinks. The park is also home to an open-air movie theatre and one of the less obvious places to visit in Moscow for art lovers, the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art.
If you take a walk from Gorky Park along the Moscow river embankment, you’ll end up in the city’s other legendary park, Sparrow Hills. Although the park doesn’t offer as many activities as its hip neighbour, here you can take a closer look at the tallest of the seven Stalinist skyscrapers (the Moscow State University), admire the view from the observation deck or get a cable car ride.
Opened in 1856, the legendary Bolshoi Theatre is one of the pest places in Moscow for an evening of entertainment. It’s the home of Bolshoi Ballet and the Bolshoi Opera – among the oldest and most famous ballet and opera companies in the world. Alongside the classics, the theatre also stages contemporary works by young international composers and choreographers. The theatre’s imperial decor was restored in a six-year refurbishment that finished in 2011.
VDNKh All-Russian Exhibition Centre
The enormous VDNKh contains about 400 buildings and is said to cover an area bigger than Monaco. The centre started out as the all-Soviet agricultural exhibition in 1935, and now serves as an open-air museum of Soviet architecture. With the iconic fountain at its entrance, the park complex is home to a number of museums, shopping pavilions, multiple eateries , a massive oceanarium, a zip-line, a horse-riding rink and a Russian space shuttle. In winter a skating rink opens – the largest in Europe.
The former summer residence of Empress Catherine the Great was commissioned in 1775, and succumbed to deterioration during the Soviet era. The whole of Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve has been fundamentally renovated since the 1980s to look even brighter than the original. With its opulently decorated buildings, gardens, meadows and forests, Tsaritsyno Park is the perfect place for a green respite in Moscow.
Mostly known for the city’s largest flea market, the district of Izmaylovo is home to a maze of shops where you can get just about anything: from handmade items to Soviet antiquities. It’s also one of Moscow’s largest green spaces, where you can hide from the city buzz.
Ostankino TV Tower
Built in 1967, Ostankino TV Tower was the tallest free-standing construction in the world at the time. Now it’s still the best observation deck with a glass floor and 360 degree views. So be sure to book one of the hourly tours; the speedy elevators will take you 337m (1,105ft) in no time.
A 10-minute metro ride from the city centre will take you to Kolomenskoe Museum-Reserve, where you can get an idea of what Medieval Moscow looked like. Here you’ll find ancient churches (one dating back to the 16th century), the oldest garden in Moscow and a favourite estate of Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich, father of Peter the Great.
Founded in 1524, the Novodevichy Convent is a place steeped in history. Behind the walls that once served as a fortress, there are four cathedrals with a fascinating icon collection and a venerable cemetery. Back in the day it was common for women from noble families to retire in monasteries, and the Novodevichy Convent had some notable residents such as Princess Sophia and Eudoxia Lopukhina, both related to Peter the Great (and imprisoned by him). The former was his half-sister who claimed the throne; the latter was his first wife, who stood in the way of his marriage to Catherine I.
Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
One of Russia’s most visited cathedrals, Christ the Saviour is a truly remarkable site. The grandiose cathedral was built in the 1990s where a 19th-century church of the same name stood before it was demolished in 1931 by the Soviet authorities. Designed to look like its predecessor, the modern building also contains the icon Christ Not Painted by Hand by Sorokin, which survived the demolition of the original cathedral. The cathedral was the site of feminist punk collective Pussy Riot’s 2012 protest that led to the imprisonment of several members.
Home to Europe’s tallest office building, Moscow City, also referred to as Moscow International Business Centre, is one Russia’s most ambitious engineering projects of recent years. With its various high-rises, the business district is where you should come for great crowd-free shopping and the best panoramic views of the city.
For those on a budget, ditch window shopping at the exclusive GUM and take a foray into the bustling world of Izmailovsky, Russia’s best flea market. Delve into the bargains, rifle through the artisan crafts, admire the local handiwork and be tempted by the silky smooth traditional fur hats. Expect walls of matryoshka dolls, fascinating Soviet memorabilia, and glittering hand-crafted jewellery. Head up to one of Izmailovsky market’s cafes for a warming mulled wine before continuing your shopping spree.
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21 Things to Know Before You Go to Moscow
Jun 06 2018.
A primer on traveling well in Russia’s swaggering capital.
If you had visited in the last days of the Soviet Union, and then returned to live in the mid-90s, as I did, then you could be forgiven a bit of heartbreak for Moscow and the people who lived there. The radiant enthusiasms of perestroika were gone by 1995, murdered by crony capitalism or the disastrous Chechen wars or their shambolic boozehound of a president. Moscow had always been the epitome of Russia, but for a long period, that simply meant that the city was crueler, less equal, more chaotic and dangerous than it had been before.
All of that seems now a distant memory, as if scrubbed clean by one of those maniacal sidewalk-water-Zambonis that pressure-wash the sidewalks of the city center every night. Central Moscow now is repainted and so clean it can feel like Slavic Disneyland. It’s a perfect reflection of Putin himself: pinched, wealthy, disciplined. God help you if you’re an outspoken artist, a disgruntled activist, a run-of-the-mill fall-down drunk or some other kind of undesirable. Moscow has no place for you these days.
I have no nostalgia for the old chaos, though. Life in Moscow is easier these days, especially for visitors. The streets are safe at night. Russians are, despite what you might have heard, enthusiastic hosts. The grand buildings and bejeweled churches gleam everywhere. And thanks to a falling Ruble, prices are reasonable across the board. This is actually, despite all the geopolitical burbling, an excellent time to visit. — Nathan Thornburgh
Save up for your Visa. The price of a Russian tourist visa keeps creeping up, and the requirements—like needing an official invitation from an approved organization —remind one just a bit of the Soviet days. If you stand in line at a consulate in the U.S., you can get a visa for US$123. If you use a passport service and need a quick turnaround and expedited visa, that can creep up to nearly US$500. It’s absurd. Although, importantly, it’s not nearly as egregious as what many have to go through to visit the U.S. Good news for World Cup ticket-holders: you can enter Russia without a visa if you have a Fan ID , which gets you free public transportation as well.
[Already been to Moscow? Here’s R&K’s guide to Saint Petersburg.]
Don’t fear the Ruble. Moscow used to be expensive. Like, weird-expensive. Luanda -expensive. But with the Ruble being one of the first currencies to go down the slide that we’ll all be on soon enough, this is actually a great time to visit. A quality hotel in central Moscow can be yours for US$110/night or less (except during the World Cup of football, aka the Beautiful Gouge). Moscow is still a city where people spend to make a statement, so you may find yourself with a heavy dinner bill if you aren’t careful, but even the very highest-end restaurants like White Rabbit don’t cost what a pedestrian upscale meal in New York might.
Download some Russian. Moscow is far more English-friendly than most places in Russia, but without at least some basic words and some translation firepower, you’ll struggle at times. Download Yandex Translate [ Apple // Android ], which works offline too and translates text from photos. (It has 94 languages so you can use it for future trips, too.) Here are the Russian words you really should know: выход (VY-khod) exit; вход (v-KHOD) entrance, ресторан (resto-RAHN) restaurant, туалет (tua-LYET) toilet, аптека (ap-TYEK-a) pharmacy. And, for good measure, something weird and local like ботва (baht-VA), which means the leaves and stalks of root vegetables or tubers, but is used as slang for nonsense or a trifling.
Carry your passport. It’s unlikely that you’ll get stopped by police, who mostly seem to stand around waiting for opposition leader Alexei Navalny, but if you do, you’ll definitely want to have your passport on you. Take it with you at all times.
Don’t drink the water. The water system here is better than in rickety Saint Petersburg, but bottled water is still king.
Go small with cash. Carry a wad of cash, because not everywhere takes credit cards (and almost nowhere takes American Express). And as is true of Russia generally, make sure you get plenty of small bills (100₽ and 500₽ notes) and not just a lean stack of 5,000₽ notes that no one will want to break for you.
Know your Rings . Russia’s eternally autocratic tendencies have deeply shaped Moscow. Moscow is the heart of Russia, and the Kremlin is the heart of Moscow, so the entire city spins out from the ancient fortress in a series of concentric rings. The first ring—the Boulevard Ring—is actually more of a horseshoe, but the Garden Ring after that and the Third Ring Road trace great looping circles around the capital. The Circle Line of the metro does the same underground slightly further out from the Kremlin than the Garden Ring.
For visitors, this means the sweet spot for accommodations is probably between the Boulevard and Garden Rings. Further in, and hotels get more expensive. Further out, and you’re going to be far from everything—Moscow is a big sprawl. If you are saving money by being a bit further out, just make sure you’ve got easy Metro access. Moscow traffic will break your spirit, no matter what ring you’re on.
Git your Teremok. Moscow may be the city that went mad for McDonald ’s, but Russian fast-food chain Teremok delivers a real hit of flavor and sense of place for a reasonable price. We will always enjoy the ability to get a buttery blini with roe for under US$10, or even this thing , which they call an E-mail Blini and which comes with mushrooms and melty cheese, like all email should.
Get that Rideshare. Moscow’s informal cab economy in the late Soviet days and throughout the 1990s was strong. Civilians of all kinds would cruise around in their personal cars and look for people flagging them down on the side of the road. For drivers, it was a way to make some much-needed cash. For riders, it was chaotic and sometimes tricky (you had to negotiate your fare and watch your back), but incredibly convenient. As ambivalent as we are about ridesharing around the world, it is a lifeline in Moscow. Thanks to the ubiquity of Uber and Yandex Taxi (which recently acquired Uber’s Russia business), the good old days are back: only now instead of waving a couple fingers toward passing cars, you just tap on your phone and a (licensed and registered) car will whisk you away. Prices are similar in both apps and low by European standards (a 15-minute ride can run $6 or less).
Go underground. Moscow’s larger avenues and streets don’t have pedestrian crossings, so don’t keep walking, expecting to find one at the next corner. Instead, the city’s networks of underground passageways are how you navigate your way across the street. It can take a while to get your bearings underground and figure out which exit you need: some of the larger hubs are like underground cities and have a dozen or so. These passageways are also centers of commerce: you can buy clothes, groceries, get your watch repaired, etc.
Make friends over meat pockets. Cheburek is a delightfully greasy oversized crescent of meat-filled pastry that the Tatar people brought to Moscow. Cheburek Friendship (Чебуречная Дружба) is a somewhat oddly named purveyor of these delights. It’s a brilliantly humble place, with fluorescent lighting and communal sinks for washing your hands before and after. It’s just 40₽ (US$0.64) per cheburek. Also, you’ll want to get some vodka in you as soon as possible in Moscow, and you can definitely do that here: savvy (or just alcoholic) patrons chase each fatty bite with a swig of vodka followed by a gulp of Fanta. Our kind of place.
Find Ivan and his offal. There are plenty of restaurateurs in Moscow, many of them slick operators with a consistent, glossy portfolio of market-tested dining concepts. Ivan Shishkin isn’t like that. He’s an old friend of Roads & Kingdoms and one of the true iconoclasts in Moscow’s dining scene. His two main restaurants are Delicatessen (a basement speakeasy with a nearly blasphemous food menu) and Youth Cafe (a restored bordello on Trubnaya with big, wild plates to choose from). For the quickest hit of Shishkin’s off-kilter genius, slink down the stairs at Delicatessen and order the fried calf brains in egg yolk sauce with pike roe, or get the caviar pizza or perhaps the horse tartare seared with a branding iron at your table. Eat, drink, and think: this is a man who embraces freedom wherever he can find it.
Head for Food City. You might think that calling Food City (Фуд Сити) , an agriculture depot on the outskirts of Moscow, a “city” would be some kind of hyperbole. It is not. This is an entire cosmos (ok, that is hyperbole) of vendors and farmers and chefs and laborers and laypeople who all have roles to play in feeding a megacity. For any food obsessive, it’s well worth the 40-minute cab ride south to get there and walk the aisles of Moscow’s breadbasket. And because Central Asians dominate the labor of this industry, there is some of Russia’s best plov—inexpensive, fragrant rice steamed with spiced meats—and fresh flatbread served at stalls on the fringes of the market. Think of it as a Tsukijii Market for vegetables and Uzbek rice.
Be caviar savvy. The ancient species of Caspian Sea sturgeon whose beloved roe has fed Tsars and peasants alike is endangered, and it’s illegal in Russia to poach or sell wild, black caviar. (Although this hasn’t stopped people from smuggling and poaching in all kinds of creative ways, including stashing 1,000 pounds of it in a coffin .) Most legal caviar in Russia comes from farmed Siberian sturgeon. You probably can’t know the source of every spoonful caviar you encounter, but if someone tries to sell you wild black caviar, it’s either illegal, not sturgeon, or a lie. If you want to drop some cash on excellent caviar and vodka in a restaurant, chef Ivan Shishkin recommends Beluga . If you want to score some top-end black gold and avoid the restaurant mark-up, try the Rybnaya Manufactura chain of seafood stores, or the admittedly pricier high-end grocers such as Eliseevskiy or the GUM shopping mall’s Gastronome No.1 , where you can taste before you buy. You can also order online at Osetr, and they’ll deliver to you anywhere in the city.
Visit the Hotel Ukraine. Even if you’re not staying there. The hotel is now part of the Radisson chain, but they’ve left the original lettering intact from when it was the grand Hotel Ukraina, commissioned by Joseph Stalin and occupying the second-tallest of his gothic, Soviet power-showcase Seven Sisters skyscrapers. Come for the panoramic view from the very top of the hotel, reachable by separate elevator from the upper bar. Order a Moscow Mule—which was not invented in Moscow , by the way—at the terrace bar if you must, but this is a playground for karaoke-drunk oligarchs and cocktails are pricey. Whatever you do, don’t miss the diorama in the lobby—a 1:75 scale model of Moscow and the Kremlin complex, with a 5-minute audio spiel explaining what’s what. It’s a lot of fun, and a perfect introduction to Moscow’s heart. For an excellent view of the Kremlin, go to the roof restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel .
Join the masses at the Kremlin. As the beating fortress heart of Moscow, and therefore, all of Russia, the Kremlin complex and Red Square has a staggering share of Eurasia’s prime real estate, treasures, and historical artefacts—including Lenin’s Mausoleum (or strictly speaking, Lenin’s embalmed corpse). It will be busy, especially from May to September, so plan your visit in advance and try to go early in the morning. The Kremlin Armoury has a limited number of tickets available each day, for example. Booking tickets through the official Kremlin website will enable you to skip the ticket lines. When planning, avoid Russian public holidays: the museums might be closed, or busy with locals.
…then look beyond the Kremlin. There are world-class treasures and bling, naturally, but Moscow’s charms include dozens of obscure museums. There are scores of writers’ and poets’ houses (“ The Master and Margarita ” fans should check out the rival Mikhail Bulgakov House and state-run Bulgakov Museum , which are both in his former apartment building but don’t acknowledge each other); a vodka history museum; a museum dedicated to valenki (Russian felt boots); a gallery of working Soviet-era arcade games; an ice sculpture museum; and an opulent bunker built after the first round of nuclear tests. Note that some museums charge different prices for locals and foreigners.
But note that Monday is a day of rest… For Moscow’s museums, at least. Except for the Kremlin museums and St Basil’s Cathedral, it seems that Mondays are a universal day off for the keepers/houses of Moscow’s historic and cultural treasures.
Go to GUM for food, not the Chanel. Moscow’s landmark posh department store dates back to the 18th century, and is a barometer of sorts for the city’s consumption power. Its stores were more bare in the Soviet era, but GUM now has a full stable of upmarket chains. The real charm here is its food store, Gastronome No.1, which stocks the international and hyper-local product you need, such as Soviet candy. Also, try a deeply nostalgic Soviet-era ice-cream cone at one of GUM’s kiosks, and, finally, spend 150₽ for a most luxurious restroom experience in the “Historic Toilets.”
Tchotchke tip. If you must buy topless Putin calendars and nesting matryoshka dolls, then we recommend the little souvenir shop staffed by friendly Central Asian women on at Arbat 20, just between Dragon Tattoo and the Irish Pub. They have some schlock, of course, but a lot of high quality at decent prices—look for the matryoshki with traditional motifs of a farmwife holding a black chicken.
The Moscow Metro is your friend. Moscow traffic is some of the worst in Europe, if not the world. The Metro is cheap, fast, reliable, and gorgeous. It’s also not as complicated as it looks to a non-Cyrillic reader. Read our primer. Also, if you’re going traveling all over the city, you should get a refillable Troika card , good for all forms of transport: Metro, trams, buses, and suburban railways. (The card also comes in bracelet and key ring form for maximum convenience.) Now, go sort out your visa.
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