Opening Lines

When it comes to submissions, you’ll need to grab your reader in the opening spreads. If not, they may not read on, especially if we’re talking about submissions. Even if your story has a great twist or unexpected ending, the first three spreads need to be WOW. There is no right or wrong way to do this and it will depend on your tone and style and topic. I recommend looking at opening lines in similar texts or simply visiting the library and noting the many different ways stories start. 

Here are some types of openings to consider, taken from this article by Laura Lavoie https://lauralavoieauthor.com/modern-picture-book-openings/ I’ve simplified/ paraphrased Laura’s article and narrowed it down to: 

1. BUT/ ONE DAY opening 

These openings start with the main character. They might show the protagonist in their everyday life, share a bit of backstory or give readers a sense of some important character traits that will impact the protagonist’s journey later on (foreshadowing/ seeding). 

After you give readers a taste of who the character is and what they’re about, it’s time for the inciting incident. Your MC should grapple with a fear, goal, or flaw that will propel their journey forward. The ‘but’ is our clue to the story conflict. Similarly, ‘one day’ can propel a main character into conflict. Examples; The Storm Whale in Winter (Benji Davies) A House for Mouse (Petr Horacek) 

2. UH OH! Opening 

The Uh Oh drops the reader right in the action and shows the conflict in the very first line. It starts with the inciting incident and builds the story from there onwards. If you’re writing a story with an Uh Oh opening, you should put your character in a pickle on the first page. For example in You Must Bring a Hat, the story opens with a child going to a party but they don’t have a hat and the invitation says they need one! We learn all this information in four sentences—just 33 words! 

The Uh Oh can take many different forms, but the key is to grab your reader’s attention with an Oh no! moment at the very start. Example; You Must Bring A Hat (Simon Philip, Kate Hindley). 

3. OPPORTUNITY 

To write a story with an Opportunity opening, your character should be presented with a chance at something they really want— but can they do it? A good example is ‘Game of Stones,’ in which the main character sets out to invent the best game ever. Examples; How to Catch A Star (Oliver Jeffers), Game of Stones (Rebecca Lisle, Richard Watson).