You Have Choice When You Begin a Story

storytelling tips

You can establish characters and setting or you can establish wonder, suspense, intrigue, and/or humor.

What do you think is better?

So often I hear storytellers begin their stories with landscaping, meteorology, wardrobe, geography, and architecture instead of something that grabs the attention of the audience immediately. They waste the first few sentences describing people and places instead of giving the audience something that excites or intrigues them.

I recently told a story of a life-or-death race between a hawk and a rabbit while my fifth-grade students looked on in horror.

I could've started my story with a sentence like:

"I'm standing outside my school with my fifth-grade students, waiting to enter the school and begin a new day."


"First I see the rabbit, then I hear the scream."

Is there any question which is better?

I can still tell the audience that I'm standing outside my school with my fifth-grade class, waiting to enter the building, but I can tell them that after I've grabbed their attention. After I've created suspense and wonder in their minds. After I've really launched the story.

The first few sentences of any story are rarified territory. Precious and important. Use it wisely by engaging the audience's attention. Putting them in a position where they must hear the next sentence.

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