A good beginning starts with a captivating first sentence. The sentence opens the story and hooks the reader, drawing them into the second sentence and then the third. Frankly I don't think the first sentence is the most important. The chances that someone will one line and close the book is rare I believe. It is more likely that they'll read a page, a few paragraphs and then make their decision on the quality of a story. It would be better then that say, the 53rd sentence is the captivating one. So where shall we beginning but on the 53rd sentence.
The day was a bright one, which is a plain way to start (but of course this is not the first sentence so it does not matter). The character who was going to be a young girl but shall now be a young man (who needs to know there was a change?), is going out for a walk. Oh how typical that is and there is really not enough interest in it. It is something which needs to change. The character needs something, somewhere to go, a story behind them. But then isn't that what the first but not officially first 52 lines are for? So right now we have a young man who is going out for a walk. He goes out for this walk, we're not being fancy here, that's for when people are actually reading it.
He is wearing a blue shirt, a cheap one that really holds no significance in life but may in some odd occurrence come to mean something. His pants, which are the colour that one would expect when chinos are mentioned but are not chinos, could be a tad smaller. He is a male though and although many males in this age seem to have an affinity for their appearance, he was not one of them. We now have a bright day, and a man in chino-looking pants and a blue shirt.
When someone sits down to write, and note that there was not the use of the word author; no one has to be an author to sit down to write. Now when someone sits down to write, do they already know what's going to happen? Are they there with a meticulous plan, knowing the character is going to get gum on their shoe which will later transport them to a magical land? Or do they sit there, tapping pen to a blank page, waiting for the spark of inspiration that will take them to the magical land? Admittedly I am the latter.
We are now on the 18th sentence, so there is still 35 sentences left to go. At that sentence the reader will decide whether they will close the story or continue. There is still time til that sentence comes.
Now our young man with chino-coloured pants and a navy shirt is walking down a street. Yes he is still doing that, after 18 sentences he is still going for a walk. He walks down the street, no that is the wrong tense, no actually lets keep it. He walks down the street on a fine day. It was not particularly bright, not enough for him to think he should be wearing a hat, but there was only the immature cloud in the sky here and there.
His walk is not for any particular reason but because every good young man should take to walking at least once a day and if they cannot manage that then at least three times a week, and if that cannot be managed in their busy days then they should strive for moving their legs whenever they can. What type of a story is this going to be; an instruction manual for young men looking to improve their stature and status? As someone who is not a young man with stature or status I do not think I am qualified to write such a story. A more appropriate story to write would be an instruction manual for young woman on developing their unsocial behaviour til they reach the level of hermitage. Perhaps staying away from the instruction manuals will be a good idea.
Let's go back to the young man. He walked down the street on a fine day. He was walking for the sake of walking, for the sake of getting out of the house. Is there anything wrong at home? No. In fact the reason he is getting out of the house is because he is a budding writer and wants some air to clear his mind. You see there are some things which writers are told to do, and when one find themselves in this thing called writer's block, which I believe is the most foolish kind of block, they are told to clear the mind. He calls himself a writer, however some would debate that. He is what some people say, a desperate lad striving for attention through words but seeking it in the wrong places. He tries to learn from everything, from every book, from every author, but he does not know how to learn from himself.
He walked down the street, hoping for his mind to come across something that could give him inspiration. Over there was a flower, a beautiful red thing that was not a rose. He could write of a girl, struck in the heart by a golden rose and in search of the one of her true love. It would be a desperate love story and in the end, she would find him and off they would waltz into the sunset of happiness. He didn't question what lay beyond the sunset, of course it was something good, but I would like to question it. Once their figure disappear into the gleams of light do they just end up on the other side of the street, still facing all the complications of two people together? Or do they end up in another world entirely, where their love can never be broken and they are destined to spend the rest of eternity entwined in each other's arms? It's hard to say but easy to write.
He decided that he did not want to write a love story today, it would not be captivating enough. Over there on the other side of the street is a car, and it is easy for him to see the dent that had turned the nice paint into the equivalent of a bloodbath. He could, if he wanted, write a story of a runaway prisoner, jumping from stolen car to stolen car, all the while trying to prove his innocence in the murder of his brother. However he did not want to write that today.
It is not long on his walk, whilst his mind trails around, that he sees a person coming towards him. The person holds a dog on a leash, a big dog that he can't name the breed of. Politely, because a writer must be polite when they venture into society, he moves to the side. As he passes the dog goes to sniff him, and he smiles at it and the woman as she drags the dog off. A dog that can read minds perhaps? Or maybe that has x-ray vision, or can fly. Dogs however were not his forte, nor was mind-reading or x-ray vision and he gives up on the idea despite thoughts on it continuing to slip into his head.
The next thing that sparks a thought in his mind is the hiss of a snake. He is quick though to realise it was not the hiss of a snake but the swing of a gate opening.
Are you captivated now? Because if you did not realise it, we have just passed the 53rd sentence. It would be wrong though to call it the 53rd sentence because really it is the opening sentence, the hooking sentence, the first sentence. Our story hence begins here, after 52 sentences where the reader can make their choice on the quality of the story. What choice will you make; will you keep reading beyond the first sentence, or close it now and decide it is not worth knowing where the young man will go? The choice is entirely yours, but the young man is going to walk on either way and see what happens at the swing of the gate.
He is quick though to realise it was not the hiss of a snake but the swing of a gate opening. A boy steps out, running in front of him without a second thought and quickly ducks down by the gutter. In another second the boy is up, a cricket ball in his hand and before the young man can take another step he's ducked in front of him and back through the gate with the snake-like hiss.
"Aiden stop throwing that on the street you duckwit."
The young man hears the voice and a twinge, an odd twinge comes into him. It's a twinge of familiarity but he shouldn't be feeling any twinges.
He could write of a duck with wit, a fluffy things which knows how to preen its feathers to have the sharp edge of wit. It would be very allegorical, for something in society he could say, and all stories of society are pivotal to the world of course. However he does not feel like writing about ducks today, whether witty or not.
Before anyone can come out and see him standing there looking aimless he moves on past the gate and the boy who has just been called a dimwit. He ignores the twinge, it probably was just from a memory of himself as a boy playing in the yard and decides there's nothing more to think about it.
Unless he wrote about a twinge. A twinge from the memory of a friend that was once known but who trailed off as youth disappears from a person. A twinge that lead to a meeting, which lead to a friendship restarted, which lead to a hope. He's sure he hears another shout of dimwit in the distance and then the twinge is gone. It was just a moment where his mind was elsewhere and there's nothing to think about. The twinge doesn't seem like it will make an interesting story now that he doesn't feel anything.
He's coming to an end of his walk. He's gone down the street, around the corner and then through the shortcut before reading the end of his road. He went for a walk to cure his writer's block and it has not been cured. The inspiration that he was meant to find in clearing his mind has not befallen him.
With the sense of defeat he has nothing else to do but return to his home, finding the same blank page sitting on his table and no inspiration in mind to fill it with.
Should the final sentence be as captivating as the first? The last sentence where the story comes to its close and the reader is left with a blank page to end. No more words, nothing but blankness and a close. Maybe that is where the emotions come in; sadness, happiness, satisfaction? Or not. I suppose a good final sentence leaves the reader satisfied. So now I have to ask, is my story satisfying? I wonder if it's not; the young man after all did not grow, or develop or come to any further realisation than he had at the beginning. That however was not my fault, it was his. It was the young man's doing that he did not find inspiration in the flower or the dog or the duckwit. All these things I gave him and he with a flick of bother decided none were worth curing his writer's block with. If he had taken any of them his writer's block would have been cured in an instant, but the funny about writer's block is that it's not being able to find something to write about, it's not wanting to write about it. If someone really wanted to write they could write about a tree or a dog's howl or the sun. It doesn't have to be riveting or knowledgeable or based on a feeling. The young man with the chino-looking pants and blue shirt choose to end as he began. With that said, there is no more in this story. The young man is still staring at the blank page waiting for inspiration to come, not realising that all the tendrils of thoughts slipping around his mind is the inspiration he is looking for. It would not be hard for him to find it, but he has chosen to not look. All that is needed now is the last sentence, where the story comes to its close in a satisfying line. There is nothing more to say, with the young man choosing for there to be no more story to tell. There is still a rose, a dog and a duckwit which needs a story, but he will not be their storyteller. That will be for someone else, on another person's blank page, where inspiration will flow openly. A blank page only needs one word to no longer be blank, whether it be duckwit or twinge. There is always more words, and always more blank pages to be filled. Now however is a closing line, to end with satisfaction the story that begun on the 53rd line of the man in chino-looking pants and a blue shirt.
The end, perhaps.