A dramatic, attention-grabbing opening can determine whether your audience will devour your story or stop reading. The sooner your students understand the importance of a strong narrative introduction, the better their own writing will become. You can teach children to write dynamic story beginnings by helping them examine different types of sample openings, practice narrative-opening techniques, analyze effective introductions from library books they enjoy and find unique ways to introduce their main characters to audiences.
Discussing different introduction techniques can give students a toolbox of ideas for their own stories. Begin the day's writing activities with a short lesson about ways to start narratives, including opening with dialogue, a description of an important place or a significant action. (See Reference 1; Reference 4 pg 5) Then, students can write different openings for their stories using each of these techniques. In addition to creating possible openings to use in their final drafts, students can also see how each type of opening adds drama and intrigue to their stories.
Students can also learn to write good story openings by rewriting beginnings that fall short of the mark. Scholastic Teachers suggests making a worksheet that features several examples of openings that could use some creativity with a blank space below each sample introduction. These sample sentences might include, "This is the story of my trip to Florida," or "One day, my dog ran away." Then, ask students to rewrite each opening, using action, dialogue or description to make it more dramatic and attractive to audiences. (See Reference 2 pg 1)
Story Starter Scavenger Hunt
Just as many writers draw from their greatest influences for ideas, your students can also find inspiration for their openings in stories they enjoy. Take your students to the school library, where they'll search the shelves for their favorite books. After rereading the introductions, they can write a few sentences about why these openings are effective. For example, they might cite a powerful action sequence or a haunting, mood-setting description. Ask for volunteers to read the openings of their favorite books and share what their favorite authors have taught them about starting stories. (See Reference 3)
Sometimes, a good opening can both grab readers' attention and introduce them to the main character. To demonstrate this, show clips from children's movies of the scenes when the protagonists enter the story. For example, in "Aladdin," audiences first meet the title character when he's on the run after stealing a loaf of bread, while Belle in "Beauty and the Beast" strolls into town reading a book. Discuss what these early scenes reveal about the main characters, such as Aladdin's impetuousness and Belle's love for adventurous stories. Then, ask them to write openings for their stories that reveal something important about their characters.
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