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From the author of Tip 3: Jump In!

Tip 3: Jump In!

The best place to start a story is in the middle of the action. This is the advice Aristotle gave, calling it in media res, which means "in the middle of things." Novice writers sometimes feel they have to give the reader the entire chronology of events, starting at the very beginning. This is a mistake, and bogs down the writing with too many boring events. For your first draft, you might write every little event and detail. But then you need to revise and revise, cutting out anything that isn't crucial to the story, and making sure that the story begins at an exciting, pivotal point.

Begin with a Strong Lead

For web writing, the best practice is to use a paragraph structure called the inverted pyramid (see Figure 2). The inverted pyramid turns the traditional paragraph structure upside down by beginning with the topic sentence. For years, journalists have been using the inverted pyramid for newspaper reporting.

Figure 2 Inverted pyramid.

Start with a Hook

Whether your web content is fiction or nonfiction, you need to get your reader's full attention in the first few sentences. A good hook will grab readers and make them want to read more. Readers often decide based on the first three sentences whether they want to continue reading an article or story. Write your beginning sentences with the following goals in mind:

  • Start the story.
  • Set the tone.
  • Introduce major characters or ideas.
  • Create curiosity.
  • Pose a dramatic question that the story must answer (begin the conflict).
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