Begin, then begin again!

That’s right; the beginning (where else to start?). Let’s look at some creative, perhaps unconventional ways to begin sentences:

Lead with your subject, which, by the way, would also make a great hook: Bathtubs: the deeper, the better, I say.

Start with an exclamation mark (no, I have not seen it done, but why not?): ! Who says it can’t be done?

Or, use a metaphor or simile. As quintessential as toothpaste on a brush, my relationship depends on just one thing … (the ellipsis has hooked you, hasn’t it?)

Use an expletive: Rats! (a derivative of “Drats!”?).

Begin with a conjunction: But just what did you imagine you would be doing in this sentence? And that is that. Which is exactly why we are here right now.

Gobbledygook is a great start (the term describes it well): Achtun! Ess eet molzing abried te estraba eable? (Crazy yet? Well, I got carried away, but it is amazing that you can actually decipher what part of speech each of those words fulfils.)

Use just one word or two at the beginning of a sentence. It grabs you: Wait. Wait just one minute!

(I’m letting you in on a little secret here: using parenthesis is another creative way to jettison your way off the starting block as a writer.)

Use an unusual name: “Grizalda, just where do you think you are going, my dear? Your tea and crumpets are ready (the primary yellow flower danced quite merrily atop Grizalda’s pewter Sunday bonnet as she sashayed over to the tea table …).

What about beginning with brackets to unveil some action or aspect of a character? [Marching forward] John tooted like a troubadour (he really should have consumed less of Mamaylia’s Bean Salad Supreme).

Ssss … just suppose you started with an alliteration or some scintillating sound: Doot do do-da-loo-do doot doot do do, doot do-do doo do, doot do-do doo do … “And now, ladies and gentlemen! [drum roll as a trapeze artist takes flight: a woman whose gracefulness is as none you have seen before – each movement as if made with an artist’s brush stroke, her form soft as the sheer blues that flow outward from her feminine curves as she flies through the air, from the center ring above the crowd, and gracefully reaches for her partner’s hand as he stands, every muscle at attention, on a platform, then clasps her wrist and swings her, effortlessly, gracefully, to the platform beside him].

Or, start with “or”: Or is it a muse that transports you from here to that place you only dreamed you might go, but dared not?

Start with intrigue: Stone cold, he passed from this life. White. Stiff. But smiling.

Start with action, as if in the middle of the story, and then backtrack: He drove, white-knuckled, fixated on the center line, his mind wandering back to a time of boyish innocence … It was fall – 1963, West Virginia.

Dialogue may be an attention-grabber: “What?”

“What do you mean, ‘What?'” his grandfather’s cataract-blue eyes could see well enough, still, to know when his grandson was dodging.

“‘Scuse me, Poppa,” Jim answered, easing himself down again, remembering that, after all, excusing oneself from his grandfather’s dinner table was the respectable and expected thing to do.

Start with a character’s name, then develop the character: Annie … Aural Annie, as she had been named in honour of her grandmother, Aural Annabelle Helvertson – from Alabama … She had played the banjo, her grannie did, and could whoop up a half-dead, pale gathering until you’d swear on your momma’s Bible that they were born jiggin’! And stomp! … Granny was the most graceful, powerful stomper that the townsfolk of Altoona, Alabama had ever laid eyes on. It made a body proud (and did a body good … ooo-eee!).

Well, what better way to end than with a hootenanny! But before you git to stompin’, there’s gist one thin’ I need to remind y’all about: Even when “more feels like more,” you gotta remember that “less is more”.

That’s right: Too much of a good thing is like eatin’ too much ice cream, puttin’ too much salt on your ‘taters or doin’ too much stompin’ (hard on them floor boards).

In writing, less is more.

Have fun, know the rules and then go ahead and break ’em … but not too often in one settin’ as they just ain’t near as good that way. You gotta surprise your readers … Leave ’em wantin’ more!

This ain’t really the end, ’cause there ain’t no end to writin’.

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