Sunday, November 22, 2015

Bold Beginnings and Catchy Conclusions: Taking the Tears Out of Writing the First and Last Paragraphs

In my teaching and personal experience, I find the first sentence of a piece of writing to be one of the most difficult things to create and perfect.  After all, an author really only has a sentence or two to gain the interest of their readers.  No pressure, right?  What's the next most difficult thing to write?  That would be the final paragraph in which the author has to wrap everything up in a pretty package with a bow on top.  That's no easy task, either.  So, I compiled some of my favorite openings closings to stories that I've either read or written.





Most of my favorite openings include figurative language because it can make any writing piece fun, in my humble opinion.  My top favs are:

Onomatopoeia is a fun word just to say.  Also, describing the way something sounds is appealing to the auditory learner in me.  Plus, students enjoy trying to describe the sounds to each other.

Foreshadowing is fun to use around Halloween.  It adds a creep factor to creative writing and mysteries.

Alliteration is a fabulous element to add to the title of a story.  For example, "Bold Beginnings and Catchy Conclusions" sounds much more interesting than "Opening and Closing Paragraphs".

Similes/Metaphors help your future Mark Twains party like a rock star while they are writing.  See what I did there?

Below is the first page of the model story I created to help students get into their writing.  I challenge you to see how many of my favorite story-starter elements mentioned above are included.  Spoiler alert:  I tell you how many and which ones directly after the photo.





I'll bet you guessed that there were two of my favorite story-starter elements in this part of the story: Onomatopoeia and foreshadowing.  

Below is an example of some of the other Bold Beginnings included in the rest of the story.





Conclusions don't have to be boring and routine.  My favorites are quotes and similes/metaphors.  If a summary is done properly, it can also be a good ending to a story.  However, summaries can be tricky.  If all a summary includes is the same sentences from the story, that can really put a reader out.




I print, laminate, and keep these sheets available for buddy editing and small group writing.  If you'd like to pick up a copy, click here.

How do you inspire your students to open and close their writings?  I'd love to hear how!




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