Reading and Literacy

Easy Ways for Students to Start Stories


Easy Ways for Students to Start Stories

Help your students organize their story writing by starting off with a strong lead—the opening sentence or paragraph—to hook the reader.

1. Character’s Name
Introduce a person or person-like object.
“Sophie couldn’t sleep. A brilliant moonbeam was slanting through a gap in the curtains.” The BFG by Roald Dahl

2. Question
Present a puzzle or mystery for the reader to ponder.
“Where’s Papa going with that ax?” Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

3. Sound
A tried and true device to capture the reader’s attention.
“Life was going along okay when my mother and father dropped the news. Bam! Just like that.” Superfudge by Judy Blume

4. Powerful Emotion
Reveal the writer or main character’s true self.
“A twig snapped under my feet and I froze at the sound.” Camp X by Eric Walters


5. Unusual Image
Use this powerful tool to create a dramatic scene.
“My father’s loft was as silent as a mortuary and as dark as the inside of a coffin—except for the glow from his study.” Out of the Cold by Norah McClintock

6. Clear Statement
The writer gives a key piece of information to develop.
“Mama taught me to lie.” How It Happened in Peach Hill by Marthe Jocelyn

7. Setting
The writer describes the place and sometimes the time of the story.
“It was late one winter night, long past bedtime, when Pa and I went owling.” Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

8. Flashback
The author takes us back an earlier time. This technique helps us understand more fully the present situation.
“I looked at the long dirt road that crawled across the plains, remembering the morning that Mama had died, cruel and sunny. They had come for her in a wagon and taken her away.” Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

9. Quotation
Write the words of a real person or an invented character.
“Somebody must have told them suckers I was coming.” Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers

10. First-person
A story narrated by only one character that explicitly refers to him- or herself as “I.” This allows the reader or audience to see only the narrator’s point of view.
“I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair…” Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

The preceding was adapted from How Bullets Saved My Life by Judy Green, published by Pembroke Publishers