Introductions to Narratives

Four dazzling ways to start a narrative work

1. Start with the Setting

Give the reader a taste of where the story is located.


"The swell was gently lifting and lowering the boat. My breathing grew slower, falling into step with the creaking of the hull, until I could no longer tell the difference between the faint rhythmic motion of the cabin and the sensation of filling and emptying my lungs." — Greg Egan, "Oceanic"


"The weather was cool in Afghanistan, compared to the 125-degree heat in Kuwait. I remember thinking that I should have brought an extra poncho liner because the nights would be cold. I had no idea that being cold would soon be the least of my worries." --Christopher Butler, "49 Hours in Afghanistan"

2. BAM! Go for action or conflict

Jump right in with some action or a problem


"Hala is running for class when her cell phone rings. She slows to take it from her pocket, glances at the screen: UNKNOWN CALLER." — Kij Johnson, "Names for Water"


"In the month before my 18th birthday, my first retina specialist, a man who delivered his diagnoses with a manner like napalm, informed me that I would be blind within a few years." --Ryan Nighton, "Out of Sight"

3. Dialogue

Give a character a STUNNING opening line.


"'Cool. It's a freak show,' says Aidan. 'I didn't know they had those anymore.'" — Diana Peterfreund, "The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn"


"'Who makes the roads roll?'" — Robert A. Heinlein, "The Roads Must Roll".

4. Mystifying Statement

An intriguing statement from the narrator can WOW your reader


"You ask me if I can forgive myself? I can forgive myself for many things." — Neil Gaiman, "The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains..."


"I remember the night I became a goddess." — Ian McDonald, "The Little Goddess"