Monday, November 24, 2014

Attention Grabbers

    When you wish to begin a conversation you clear your throat, sit up straight, and exclaim, "Well, guess what happened to me today." Then you pause a moment to be sure you have grabbed everyone's attention.
   When writing a story you must do the same thing. You must grab the readers interest and make them want to continue reading. You do this by creating a strong, attention grabbing first sentence.
   If you don't do this than no one will wish to read your story. Even if the story itself is exciting, a boring beginning will not make your book a best seller. The first sentence, or at the very least the first paragraph, must pull the reader into the story. It must make them ask who, what or why.
   It doesn't have to be complicated. Here is an example of a simple, yet strong beginning sentence: "Papa was an old-fashioned preacher." Papa's Wife by Thyra Ferre Bjorn. Very simple. Very to the point. But it grabbed your attention, did it not? 
   And here is a very complicated attention grabber, "Mrs. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladies' eardrops and traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place; it was reputed to be an intricate, headlong brook in its earlier course through the woods, with dark secrets of pool and cascade; but by the time it reached Lynde's Hollow it was a quiet, well-conducted little stream, for not even a brook could run past Mrs. Rachel Lynde's door without due regard for decency and decorum; It probably was conscious that Mrs. Rachel was sitting at her window, keeping a sharp eye on everything that passed, from brooks to children up, and that if she noticed anything odd or out of place she would never rest until she ferreted out the whys and wherefores thereof." Anne of Green Gables by L.M Montgomery. Wow, now that is a very good attention grabber. It pushes all kinds of questions into your mind and promises a full story to come. 
   Here are some attention grabbing sentences from a few of my favorite books (Note: I highly recommend all these books if you are unfortunate enough to have not read them yet.):
   "In 1864 Caddie Woodlawn was eleven, and as wild a little  tomboy as ever ran the woods of western Wisconsin." Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink.
   "It was around the middle of March, and I was in algebra class, watching Mrs. Brown cover the board with xs and zs when Alice Gruber came in and made her announcement." The Bucks of Goober Holler by Gilbert Morris.
   "The rippling cry split the air like a torn cloth." Fire by Night by Lynn Austin.
   "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
   "Moonshine whiskey and cockfights-the two ingredients spelled MONEY, plain and simple." A Thousand Shall Fall by Bodie Thoene.
   "No longer did men call him 'The Friendly' or 'The Just'." Foundlings by Matthew Christian Harding.
   "Jo should have known better." Waiting for Anya by Michael Morpurgo.
   "Johnny Rankin hid from his dozen siblings up in a hedge apple tree that stood on the hill behind Ripley." The light Across the River by Stephanie Reed.
   "On a certain afternoon, in the late springtime, the bell upon Tunstall Moat House was heard ringing at an unaccustomed hour." The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson.
   "Before you fairly start this story I should like to give you just a word of warning." Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner.
   "Daniel West couldn't sleep and he couldn't go outside unless he felt like courting trouble, so what he did was get up, pull the blankets off his bed, wrap himself up in them, and then settle himself down in a chair by his bedroom window." Early Thunder by Jean Fritz.
   Are these not very attention grabbing? Having a good beginning is important if you want your readers to continue past the first page of your story, blog post, or other writing. Even if the first couple of paragraphs aren't exactly exciting, if you have a good first sentence they will keep reading to find the promised excitement. Give it lots of practice. You won't be disappointed.
   God's Blessings!      

Friday, November 21, 2014

Liberty Blue

   My dear mother has slowly collected and given me ten tea cups. One for each of my first ten years of life. This is one of my favorites. On the bottom of the plate it says: *Liberty Blue* Historic Colonial Scenes. Old North Church. Made in England.
   It's a depiction of Paul Revere's ride and the Old North Church. The only problem is that, contrary to popular belief, the Old North Church wasn't used for hanging the lanterns. Its Spire was to stumpy. In actuality we used Christ's Church.

  God's Blessings!