The First Paragraph

by Nate C

As anybody can tell you, telling a story is not easy. You may have it all worked out in your mind; the idea, the plot, the themes, but then you go to write, and nothing. It’s not really writer’s block since you know what you want to write, and it’s certainly not as if you have not given the story thought. It’s just, you don’t know how to begin, how to get the first paragraph over with.

For me, getting through the first paragraph is the hardest part. How do I grab the reader’s attention? How do I make it interesting? How do I introduce the character and the plot? The answer is, I don’t. At least, I should not worry about it.

When you go to write, try not to think of any of that, just let it come. Let it flow forth from your fingers, to the keyboard, and to the screen. Or, if it is a pen and paper you are using, through the pen and onto the paper. Of course, it is very easy to say that and I could leave this article right there.

But, while it is easy to say, it is not easy to do. You still worry about how to begin regardless of anything anyone can tell you. I know how that goes. I’ve read article and article about the beginning, and none of them help. So here is my advice for you, stop reading now. But, if you must, read on.

This is about what has helped me most with beginning; that is, writing the first paragraph. I get away from the computer and go to a place that I feel comfortable at. Sometimes that place is the swing in my backyard, sometimes it’s the couch in the Family room, and sometimes it’s at a subway station.

Next I clear my mind as best I can. I do this through a variety of ways, but the following way is my favorite. I sit for thirty seconds, eyes closed, feet planted firmly on the ground, back straight, and breathing normally. Then I slowly massage my entire body, always working to the heart. Then I sit for another ten minutes breathing through one nostril and out through the other by using my fingers to close one air passage and leaving the other open. This is a meditation technique that I learned, and I always use it, except for when I’m in a crowded place like a subway station.

Then I grab out my walkman and tune it to whatever music station I feel like listening too most. It’s usually either 103.5 (classical), 101.1 (rock), or 99.5 (hip-hop). It also depends on the story I’m writing. If it’s supposed to be touching, deep, and heartfelt, 103.5; action oriented, or a story about a jerk, 101.1; upbeat, humorous, then it’s 99.5.

And then I write. I’ll usually get a few paragraphs done, then retype them on my computer later. This is what has worked best for me, and I hope it works for you.

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