“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” called out my grade two teacher as the last word on our daily spelling test. It was the surest way to get our full attention on that April Fool’s Day!
When I begin to work on a story about one of my ancestors, it is not always clear on how to best start the story. One very helpful tip, from the Genealogy Ensemble writers group, has been to find a way to capture the reader’s interest in the first few sentences.
Dick Francis, a famous British jockey and thriller writer (and one of my favourite authors), began almost all of his books in this fashion.
Here are some examples of excellent openers from stories posted on our website Genealogy Ensemble:
- A Small Life by Barb Angus – https://genealogyensemble.com/2015/10/21/a-small-life/
“I hold the documents as gently as I would the child for whom I have searched for so long. A birth certificate. A death certificate. Four days apart.”
- Call me Ismael by Mary Sutherland- https://genealogyensemble.com/2015/11/04/call-me-ismael/
“He arrived when the service was almost over. He walked to the pulpit and announced the last hymn “Seigneur Tu donne Ta Grace.” As the organ played he collapsed to the floor. So ended the life of Ismael Bruneau, my great grandfather.”
- The Cipher by Sandra McHugh – https://genealogyensemble.com/2017/02/08/the-cipher/
“When I say that my grandfather, Thomas McHugh, worked as a cipher, Bletchley Park, MI5, and Russian spies immediately come to mind. He was neither a Russian spy nor did he work as a cipher during the war. His employer was the Bank of Montreal and it was his first job when he came to Canada in 1912.”
- No Fairy Tale Ending by JaniceHamilton https://genealogyensemble.com/2015/02/11/no-fairy-tale-ending/
“It must have been a happy wedding. For a girl from relatively humble American roots to marry the owner of one of Quebec’s vast seigneuries, this must have seemed like a wonderful match. And the groom had recently lost his parents, so family members were no doubt pleased to see him marry. Unfortunately, there was no fairy-tale ending to this story.”
- Like Father, Like Son by Lucy H. Anglin – https://genealogyensemble.com/2016/06/01/like-father-like-son/
“My husband was mesmerized by the photo of a young man hanging in a sling close to the giant propeller of the airplane he was repairing. He had never seen it before. It was a photo of his father, Allan, in his early twenties.”
Nonsensical words are great fun for children, but I think the opening sentences of these stories are excellent examples of how to capture my interest as an adult reader.