1.3 Beginnings: Ways to Begin a Story – Part Deux

Last week has been a bit mental and I didn’t get a chance to post a single exercise. So much for a daily exercise. I might have rename this, Weekly Exercise, or Whenever-You-Get-A-Chance Exercise…


Based on the writing exercises of What if? by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter(NB: I choose not to follow all the exercises or to share only those that I found interesting).


Exercise 3 – Part 2Experiment with different types of openings (with a generalisation, with a description of a person, with a narrative summary, with dialogue, with several characters but no dialogue, with a setting and only one character, with a reminiscent narrator, with a child narrator, by establishing point of view) for the story you are working on. (Go here for Part 1).

With a generalisation
I remember hearing someone say that you didn’t always what you deserve in, but what you needed. I wondered at this exact moment in which category finding a dying man at the moment of the stairs, fitted.

With dialogue
‘So how goes it?’ said Chiara over the phone.

‘Why are you calling? Aren’t you supposed to be on a hot date with what’s-his-face?’ I replied, sticking my mobile in the crook of my neck as I was touching up my make up.

‘Bah. He is absolutely yummy to look at but not much between the ears, if you know what I mean’ she sighed. ‘He is gone to the little boys room to I thought I’d check on you. Do tell now’.

‘You were right’ I scoffed. ‘They are dull as rain. All they are interested in is who will  make the cover of HEAT magazine, like any of them would. I have no idea who half of them are and they pretend they know who I am.

Chiara chuckled. ‘Told you so’.

I was about to ask her about our next dinner date when I heard a crash outside the ladies room.

With a setting and only one character
I was hiding in the ladies room, which was surprisingly empty, when I heard a cry and crash which seem to be coming from the lobby. 

With several characters but no dialogue
After dinner, the lights been dimmed and a DJ had started spinning some Top40 tune I didn’t recognise. I thought it probably was the right time for me to leave as I wasn’t much of a dancer and I could see that my dinner neighbour, a guy with wispy blond hair and the worst case of halitosis I had encountered, was about to ask me to dance. Around me, women with outfits that should never have seen the light of day, let alone be worn in public, were stumbling towards the dance floor, giggling, trying to pretend it was all part of their moves. I discreetly looked at my watch. Nearly midnight…I really should go.


And here the way I actually chose to start it (which would fall under “with a generalisation” and “by establishing POV” I think):

Sometimes you really have to be careful what you wished for. I had envied my best friend Chiara’s lifestyle forever and tonight she had engineered it so that I would get to be her for the night. She had told me countless times that being the PR manager for a cable TV channel wasn’t all that glamorous but I hadn’t believed her. I envied everything about Chiara. From her fashion sense to her career via her incredibly good looks.


Next: We move from Beginnings and onto “Notebooks, Journals and Memories! – Use yourself and your experiences as a source of inspiration.