Story Leads: Take the Time to Write Them!

Slice of Life2I am participating in #SliceofLife20.  Thanks to twowritingteachers for creating this space to write, share, and grow.


                 A good beginning “leads” a reader into the story. It makes them want to continue to read. A lead sentence captures readers’ attention, enticing them to read more. The first page of a book and the beginning of any story is the hook that helps the writer “reel” in his audience.  Sometimes, leads can be a combination of two or more sentences. It is absolutely okay to write your lead paragraph, knowing that when you finish your story (any fiction work, memoir, even biography, and autobiography), you can return to the lead paragraph to do some revision work. So your first lead may be a placeholder.  This is usually true of your title, too. Here are some examples of great leads that you may have introduced to your students.  I hesitated to include the book I wrote with Rose Cappelli here, but I believe it is a great resource for writing fiction pieces. So you can find more in Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing Through Children’s Literature (Stenhouse, 2017):


If only Billy had known that he was tall enough to ride the “Rolling Thunder.” Why did he always talk before he thought things out?

Short, Choppy Statement:

No. No. I’ll never do that again!

Name Statement:

I, Lyddie Jones, will never,  ever take my younger brother to an amusement park with my best friends.

Thoughtshot (see Barry Lane’s After THE END: Teaching and Learning Creative Revision, 2nd edition):

“Why am I afraid to tell my sister how I feel?” Billy thought to himself.


The old cars moaned and groaned as they were pulled up the wooden track by invisible hands.

Creepy Statement:

The track rose up like a dark spirit across the blue sky, turning my insides to mush.


A soft rain spattered against the car windows as we drove down the New Jersey Turnpike. As we approached Great Adventure, the rain came down in driving sheets, fierce and angry. The few cars in the giant parking lot seemed to float like ducks on top of a puddle-pond that was growing larger by the minute.

Quote (what people say):

My mother always said that Lyddie should have been born the boy. Lyddie, who was always daring, courageous, and full of life.

Controversial Statement:

Amusement parks! They should really be called torture chambers!

Your Turn: Try to write some leads in your writer’s notebook for a story you are writing or have already published. Try to use a combination of leads. Choose one or two you have never used before. We grow as writers because we take risks and try new things. I have provided some settings for you if you want to start a new piece of writing. Happy writing!

a circus                                                                                            on a rocket ship to Mars

camping near a river                                                                    climbing a mountain

a ski vacation in Colorado                                                            arriving at Ellis Island

at the seashore                                                                                sailing on the Titanic

a deserted island                                                                             an apartment in the city

scuba diving near a coral reef                                                      at a holiday party

8 thoughts on “Story Leads: Take the Time to Write Them!

  1. These are great, thank you so much for all the suggestions of topics. I guess right now we have time to ponder and write at least some of them! I was wondering if your opening line examples were all from very well-known books because I don’t recognise any of them. But then maybe they are YA books that I don’t really read as I have never taught that age group.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love naming the various forms of leads-those names make the variety of options more accessible for writers. Just hearing, “Thoughtshot” activates schema around that type of lead that inspires writers. Thank you for this great resource. I’m glad you mentioned your book with Rose-I LOVE IT!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. With so much out there to read creating that hook that will draw someone into you story is so important. These are great examples, Lynne. Each one has the reader wanting to find out more. The only to do that is to continue reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great models, Lynne. Today I Face timed with the boys. They want to write stories; I will steal your tips to get them started a little at a time.

    Liked by 1 person

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