In writing, beginnings can be tough. The beginning is our first engagement with readers, and can either pull them in or draw them away. "Call me Ishmael." Melville had a good first sentence there. He offers us the characters name and establishes a conversational, casual tone.
Some writers like to begin "in media res," which is Latin for "in the middle of things." Then they work their way back to the true beginning. And yet it's hard to know where things actually begin. Other writers, perhaps feeling experimental, start at the end and wind their way back in time. Beginnings are important for writers too -- we need to be comfortable from the start.
Many times, I've written a weak first sentence or paragraph and then, when revising, realized that my true beginning was the second sentence or second paragraph. It's vital to start writing first, and find your beginning point later on. The more you write, the more you'll be able to get a feeling for beginnings.
As a business writer, I like to begin by stating the problem, what we call the pain point. If I'm writing about conducting job interviews, for example, I might begin by explaining the costs of a bad hiring decision. When you tap into people's pain, you get their attention, and cost is almost always the biggest pain point in business writing.
Don't forget to try to tie your beginnings and endings together. I like to use an echo at the end, reminding the reader of where I started. It can be the repetition of a key phrase or a theme, maybe the continuation of an anecdote. This seems to satisfy readers and writer alike, bringing closure through a kind of symmetry.
As writers, we are in control of our beginnings, but don't forget that we are controlled by beginnings too. Once we start in a certain direction, we develop momentum and our choices can become limited.
That's the end of my reflection on beginnings. May all your beginnings work well during 2016! How do you discover where to begin when you write something? Feel free to begin the discussion in the comments below . . . .