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Titles and Openings: How to Attract Your Reader

TITLES

The first thing a reader sees of your story is the title. A good title should intrigue the reader without giving away too much of your piece. It should also prepare the reader for what follows.

For example, which of the titles is more intriguing? “My Uncle Harry” or “Uncle Harry Takes A Bath.”

I don’t like to use subtitles or quotes. For me they are distracting. A quote, image, or idea from within your piece will make (or lead to) an excellent title. I prefer short titles. Many writers find that the best way to title a piece is to finish it first, then read it over carefully to see what words, concepts, or images stick with them.

OPENINGS

The most important sentence in your story is the opening sentence. It must immediately catch the reader’s eye, draw the reader into the character’s world, establish tone, and must begin as close to if not in the story’s main conflict.

Is there a narrative hook—some incident, some question posed here that will catch the reader's interest? Some Examples Of Openings: "It was now lunch time and they all were sitting under the double green fly of the dining tent pretending that nothing had happened." --"The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber," E. Hemingway "As he stepped off the 5:48, a bag and laughter shooshed down over his head." "In the Bag," David Madden "Take for example, me and Jimmy Setchell." "The Boys on their Bicycles," Harold Brodkey "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect." --"Metamorphosis," F. Kafka “After she threw the baby in, nobody believed me for the longest time.” --“The Well and the Mine,” Gin Philips

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