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12 Clichés To Avoid When Beginning Your Story

Categories: Tip of the Day, Creative Writing Tips Tags: getting started, writing for kids.

writing for kids | story beginningsRead today’s tip from Mary Kole’s new book, Writing Irresistible Kidlit. In this excerpt, she shares some examples of common story beginnings that kidlit writers make.

Here are some of the most common openings I see, as they’re almost always a rejection:

  • Waking Up: Avoid the first moments of the day, especially if your character is being snapped out of a dream.
  • School Showcase: A character introducing the requisite best friend and the school bully
  • Family Showcase: Introductions of parents, siblings, pets
  • Room Tour: A character sitting in her room, thinking, looking over her stuff
  • Emo Kid: A character sitting and thinking about all his problems
  • Normal No More: A character lamenting how normal, average, and/or lame her life is, which is the writer setting us up for the big change that’s about to happen
  • Moving Van: A character in the car, driving to his new house, hating every minute of it
  • Mirror Catalogue: Looking at oneself and describing one’s flaws, usually with a self-deprecating voice
  • Summer of Torture: A character lamenting how she has to do something that she doesn’t want to do (live in a haunted house, go visit Grandma, work at the nursery) all summer long
  • New Kid: A character worrying about being the new kid on his first day of school or wizard training or the vampire academy
  • RIP Parents: One or both parental units kicking the bucket suddenly and tragically
  • Dystopian Selection: In the dystopian genre, it’s the day of choosing jobs, getting selected for something awful, being paired with a soul mate, etc.

These are very common beginnings and all I ask is that, if you choose to forge ahead and brave one, make it fresh.

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5 Responses to 12 Clichés To Avoid When Beginning Your Story

  1. Thank you, useful information. These will put me to thinking on my 19 book series im going to write. did the math, it should take 10 years if I write 2 a year. last one will be my biggest and take half a year still.

  2. Rachael_Renee says:

    Just an FYI here, but WD, you really need to start editing more…. “Emo” is short for “emotional”. Stating “emo kid” means “emotional kid”, which is every child, every adult… anyone who is human is considered “emo”. I’m not very keen on this stereotype and lack of information on this is very frustrating for me. Because someone has long, dark hair, wears a little too much makeup, and/or is depressed/has many problems doesn’t make them “emo”.

    Anyway!…. Very helpful; I find that too many writers use these cliches as openers to their works (even finding myself sometimes doing this). I’m really glad I stumbled across this article because it’s really going to help me edit my first chapter and be more aware of the things to avoid. Thanks! :)

    • I swear I have seen ur name before. but anyway, I know u r saying it nicely (the first paragraph) and as much as I agree with u, there is no point in starting something that has no need to be started or even thought about. I respect the fact it bothers you, but you need to respect the fact (I don’t mean to sound rude, sorry) that this person worked hard on putting this in. no disrespect intended, but I am speaking my mind just as you are.

  3. MadiJanes says:

    Very helpful, the hardest part is figuring out how to start the story!

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