The introduction for a short story should always be juicy…
It should give the reader enough incentive to go on. Oftentimes, the reader asks herself “What is in it for me?”
It is your job, as the writer, to answer that question. Whether or not she will proceed with reading your story depends on how well you answer that question.
The awful truth is that no matter how fabulous your story is, if your introduction is lame, your readers won’t go further than the first few paragraphs. So it is definitely something you should not overlook.
A juicy introduction is one that…
- captivates the mind of the reader.
- promises a lot of good things.
- witty, yes, but not too complex.
Check out the following introductory paragraph of a story:
Once upon a time, there lived a little boy whose name was Bill. He lived in a town called Happy Town. The town was full of happy people. His family was also a happy one. Their home was warm, cosy and happy. The school he went to was called Happy Days Primary School.
After reading this paragraph, how much enthusiasm do you have to go on reading? The very first sentence almost bored me to tears. “Once upon a time” used to be a very cool phrase in the past, but let’s get real-it has become a mere cliche nowadays, and hardly anyone uses it anymore, unless, of course, you are into writing stories for very young children…
The phrase “Once upon a time” also suggests that what follows is extremely fictitious and quite off from reality. Modern short story writing has become more and more about realism and about the oft unresolved problems that face humanity. So if you write about issues that affect people-day to day issues that they wrestle with, I reckon that they will be more inclined to read…
True, fairy tales have their own allure, but life is anything but a fairy tale nowadays and unless someone is in the mood, they will just yawn and close the book. But if you promise something that is a bit more realistic, someone may read a few more paragraphs, or sentences.
A juicy introduction screams “read more!!!” and it is so subtly alluring that the reader will find herself reading more without even realizing it. If someone has to labour on to read your story, it is not good. They have all the reason to toss it aside and pick up their TV remotes. In today’s hectic world, people are usually busy or tired, so why make it harder for them by using unnecessarily big words or complex language? Furthermore, with time becoming ever so precious, you must convince your readers that your story is worth reading and won’t be a waste of their time. And you must do that in your first few sentences.
By all means, lay off the cliches and trite phrases. They will not win the reader’s interest. Try witty expressions that leave readers hungering for more. Cleverly constructed sentences and phrases are hypnotising and people easily fall in love with them. How easy is it to hypnotise the reader with “Once upon a time?” unless you use real magic, maybe…
So let us juice things up a bit on our paragraph. Let’s kick out the proverbial “Once upon a time.”(Sorry if you have fallen in love with it, but it has to go…):
Bill Happy was a happy kid-a very happy kid indeed….
The question that is ringing in your head is probably: “What the heck was he so happy about?” So your automatic reaction will be to read the next sentence and find out. You get the secret now, don’t you? Leave the reader hungering and thirsting for more; don’t give out everything at once. Consider the introduction as the desert-whets people’s appetite for the main meal, which in this case is the body of the story.
Now the paragraph get’s even more interesting:
He had everything a kid his age would want-a wonderful, loving family; good friends; and he went to a happy little school called Happy Days Primary School. He lived in a happy town full of happy people. The neighbourhood he lived in was happy and peaceful. But above all, his home was happy and cosy.
At this point the reader is exclaiming: “Come on, there is no place on earth were people are so happy!” Ah, she is probably right, but hey, you aroused her interest. She really wants to know why these guys are so happy and so she reads on. And, wait for it…
Bingo! Your story is read!
Remember your most powerful weapon-the first sentence. Notice the following introductory sentences in LJ Kundananji’s stories:
“She was everything that I dreamt of-everything.” -Lost Dream
“Esnart and I had decided to rendezvous at the end of the corridor-the high way.” -She stood waiting
“When he left, he left without saying goodbye-or at least not in the manner he should have.”-Forgotten.
“There were five girls crowded in the little room.”- Girl Power
“Lewis hurled a stone into the Gomer Lakes.”- Can’t Live Without you
To read these and more of LJ Kundananji’s stories, visit http://www.writing-lovers.com
All the above introductory sentences have one thing in common: they arouse curiosity. Who was she that was everything he dreamt of? For what purpose had they agreed to rendezvous? Why is this guy regretting not having said goodbye? Why are these five girls crowded in the little room? For what reason is Lewis hurling a stone into the Gomer lakes?
The only way that the reader can find out is to read more. By all means arouse curiosity, and more curiosity…
Do you see how powerful an introduction is? Do you? Good…then you are on your way to writing juicy introductions. If you do that, more people will read your stories, no matter how boring they are!!!