You are walking along the beach and discover a mermaid. Describe the mermaid and write a story about your adventure. HOW NOT TO MAKE A GOOD BEGINNING 1. The Non-Starting Introduction The reader cannot get a feel for what the story will be about. The beginning does not hold the reader's attention. It was a nice day to do something outside. I wondered what I 'could do, but couldn't think of anything around the house that seemed fun. I was feeling bored and asked my mother what I should do. She didn't have any ideas either. Is there any clue that this story will be about meeting a mermaid? The boredom that the writer feels is passed on to the reader! 2. Too Many Small Details Most students get stuck in this style of beginning. The writer takes far too long to get to the actual main event because he spends too much time on needless details at the beginning. One bright sunny July day I woke up. I got dressed and went down for breakfast. Dad had made me waffles with syrup and bacon on the side. It was delicious. I thought it would be a fun day to go to the beach, so I asked Mom. She said fine, so I called Susan, but Susan had to go to the dentist. So I called Kate, and she couldn't go either. Mom said why don't I call Maggie, so I did. She said yes, so I got my towel and bucket and put them in the car. Mom made lunch and.... None of these details is entertaining or important to the mermaid story. 3. The Reporter This approach is more suited to a newspaper or report writing. The reader is expecting to be entertained and will be confused by the informational tone of the beginning. This story is about the day that I went to the beach and met a mermaid. I saw the mermaid and went up to her. We talked, etc., etc. Don't tell the reader what the story will be about! Just tell the story! 4. The Over-Used Introduction In the right circumstances, a cliche will work. If a writer begins with "Once upon a time...", the reader expects a fairytale or folktale. What's wrong with using this beginning in the following example? Once upon a time my mother brought me to the beach. We parked over near the hot dog stand and got out. I walked along until I saw something weird by the rocks. It was a mermaid! The problem is that "Once upon a time" doesn't fit in with the modern day setting of the story. Driving to the beach and parking near the hot dog stand doesn't fit the expectation of a story taking place long ago and far away. 5. The Tell-All-About-Me Introduction The problem that the story beginning below is that the focus is off. The emphasis on Tiffany is misleading because the story focus is on meeting a mermaid. Hi, my name is Tiffany. I am eight years old and I live in Stratford, Connecticut. I have brown hair and green eyes. I have a dog and two cats who I love a lot. I am in third grade. I love the beach, which is why I am going to tell you about my adventure there last summer. The child sees her personal history as important to the story. This kind of beginning does not flow smoothly into the action.
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