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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: Jump Start

These exercises were written by IWW members and administrators to provide structured practice opportunities for its members. You are welcome to use them for practice as well. Please mention that you found them at the Internet Writers Workshop(http://www.internetwritingworkshop.org/).

Prepared by: Alice Folkart
Posted on: Sun, April 14, 2013
Re-posted on: Sun, January 13, 2015

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The way a story opens will often determine whether or not the reader will continue reading. Grab us with three story openings that would make any reader simply have to read on. You have 400 words to divide among the three opening paragraphs. The words needn’t be divided equally, nor do you need to use them all. If you can write a start of six words that would pull us irrevocably into your story, good for you. You may write openings to three different stories or three possible openings for one story. Your choice.

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A gripping opening should hook the reader. It may set the scene, define character, establish situations, or present challenges or obstacles in the way of the plot. We should want to know, in fact, need to know, what happens next. Take a look at the opening lines of some books you’ve enjoyed, fiction or non-fiction. How did they hook you? What did they promise? Did they keep their promise? What attracted you--landscape, action, character? Did the story open with the narrator in the midst of a situation? Did you plunge directly into the action with him or her? For example: "They’re closing in. I don’t know how much longer I can keep running in this mud. They don’t have to see in the dark, they’ve got dogs, hungry dogs." And then, there is always, "It was a dark and stormy night..." But you can probably do better than either of these.

____________

The way a story opens will often determine whether or not the reader will continue reading. Grab us with three story openings that would make any reader simply have to read on. You have 400 words to divide among the three opening paragraphs. The words needn’t be divided equally, nor do you need to use them all. If you can write a start of six words that would pull us irrevocably into your story, good for you. You may write openings to three different stories or three possible openings for one story. Your choice.

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In your critique tell the writer whether or not you would have read on from any or all of the three openings and why. If any of them hooked you, was it because they scared you, amused you, or appalled you? If so, what particular vocabulary, character, description, phrasing, pace drew you in? If not, what improvement could you suggest?


Web site created by Rhéal Nadeau and the administrators of the Internet Writing Workshop.
Modified by Gayle Surrette.