Famous First Liners

09 Jun

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Welcome to Monday’s Muse! Every Monday morning of the school term in 2014, Write Away With Me posts an open ended writing and/or storytelling activity that you can try with your class or your children at home.

This term at The Writer’s Club, we have focused on the technique of creating strong story hooks. I found this resource online and wanted to share it with you all. It’s the best opening lines from 16  children’s books. (I printed this off and laminted the book covers with the opening line overleaf.)

First off, I simply read the first lines and we tried to guess the books. Titles of books were scribbled down as club members added to their list of books to read for this year. Some children’s books like E.B White’s, Charlotte’s Web are classics and this is a great way to encourage children, if they haven’t read them already, to give them a try.

Then, it seemed a natural progression  to start categorising these single sentence story starters. Is the author introducing the character or the plot? Does this opening sentence describe the setting or foreshadow what it to come? Does it create a particular tone or atmosphere? Perhaps it does all of the above…

Shining the spotlight on ourselves as readers is important too. What makes this opening sentence so good? Why does it appeal to me, as a reader? Am I hooked in by humour? By interesting charcaters? By the suggestion of a mysterious plot?

After we had devoured the list, discussed our favourite books, sorted the sentences, analysed our reading preferences and simply marvelled at the tremendous power of words, we each took up the challenge of writing one sentence. One single sentence. That’s all. We workshopped our ideas. I couldn’t help thinking afterwards that collecting those sentences would have made a great collection of writing prompts for future warm up activities. We have completed the single sentence challenge a couple of timessince then and we’re really getting the hang of it. Practice really does make perfect.

However, collecting opening lines has becomes a little addicitve I’m now looking for them everywhere. In newspaper articles. In novels. In picture books.

So go on. Take the opening sentence challenge with your students. Section off a wall somewhere so you can start your very own collection. Not only will a display like this showcase an important writing technique, but there can be no better way to encourage young writers to get excited about books and reading.

And all it is is one simple sentence.

Happy writing!

After 25 years teaching experience, from Early Childhood to VCE, Beth Cregan combined her passion for books, writing and storytelling to launch ‘Write Away With Me’. Now in its fourth year, Write Away With Me offers a wide range of original and creative storytelling and writing workshops across Victoria. Our high energy workshops cover a wide range of writing styles/genres and a flexible approach, means it’s possible to tailor the experience to match the needs of your students and your school. Interested in booking a workshop for your class? Check out the range of storytelling and writing workshops today! Workshops for secondary classes and Professional Development programs are also popular

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