Continuing my series on beginnings, here’s another way (below) to hook a reader from your first words. All of these books are great. And I love how these authors are able to convey voice, tone, and story with so few words.
Have you written a book that begins with any of these forms? If so, feel free to post about your own work or others in the comments section.
START WITH A JOURNAL, LETTER, TEXT, OR EMAIL
Memoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian, illustrated by Tim Bowers
I swam around my bowl
I swam around my bowl. Twice.
I swam around my bowl.
I thought about taking a nap.
But fish don’t sleep.
So I swam around my bowl.
I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloff, illustrated by David Catrow
I know you don’t think I should have Mikey Gulligan’s baby iguana when he moves, but here’s why I should. If I don’t take it, he goes to Stinky and Stinky’s dog, Lurch, will eat it.
You don’t want that to happen, do you?
Your sensitive son,
Finding Ruby Starling by Karen Rivers
FROM: Ruth Quayle email@example.com
TO: Ruby Starling firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Ruby Starling,
I know no one starts off email messages with “dear,” but this is more important then most email messages. It may even be The Most Important Email Message Of Our Time! ALL CAPS IMPORTANT!
Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
12th Day of September
I am commanded to write an account of my days: I am bit by fleas and plagued by family. That is all there is to say.
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
I love beginnings. If I were in charge of calendars, every day would be January 1.
Storky: How I Lost My Nickname and Won the Girl by D.L. Garfinkle
Sunday, August 29
HOPES FOR HIGH SCHOOL
1. Gina confesses she’s madly in love with me.
2. Dad teaches me to drive and buys me a Land Rover.
3. I’m the first freshman ever voted homecoming king.
REALISTIC HOPES FOR HIGH SCHOOL
1. Gina doesn’t totally blow me off.
2. Dad lets me sit in the front seat of his car.
3. I don’t get thrown into a Dumpster.
Give a Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser
By the time you read this, I’ll be gone. I just want you to know there’s nothing you could have done to stop this.
Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
August 25, 1991
I am writing to you because she said you listen and understand and didn’t try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have. Please don’t try to figure out who she is because then you might figure out who I am, and I really don’t want you to do that.
Kill You Last by Todd Strasser
A TEXT SHOWED UP … from Gabriel: Thx 4 inviting me 2 the party. W2 meet again? 121?
That caught me by surprise. I could only assume that the quick kiss I’d given him after the party had smoothed out the earlier rough spots. It was flattering to think that he still liked me, but then I thought about the warnings both Whit and Roman had given me about him. I was thinking about how to answer his text when an e-mail popped up: I like you, Shelby Sloan. If I have to kill you, I’ll kill you last.
This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
Sent: Thursday, March 7, 2013 10:18 PM
Subject: (no subject)
Hey, we’re running pretty behind here. Any chance you could walk Wilbur for me tonight?
Sent: Thursday, March 7, 2013 10:33 PM
Subject: Re: (no subject)
I think you have the wrong e-mail address. But since I’m a dog owner too, and I don’t want poor Wilbur to be stranded, I thought I’d write back and let you know …
NEXT UP: START WITH A BLOG, NEWSPAPER ARTICLE, SCHOOL ASSIGNMENT, SCREENPLAY, TRANSCRIPT, BOOK WITHIN A BOOK, GLOSSARY, ETC.