This week’s installment in my weekly series, on how to hook your reader’s interest in the first few words of your story, moves from last week’s humour to atmosphere. By building up a strong sense of atmosphere at the beginning of your story, you ensure your reader feels part of the story straight away. Here are some examples:
- She peered through the darkness. It enveloped her, clinging to her, refusing to let her go. A thud to her left. Her head whipped round. Silence. Nothing there. She reached out her hand, took a step forward. Something tugged at her hair and the stench of rotting flesh filled her nostrils. She gagged, tears spilling from her eyes. She wasn’t alone.
- Hannah eagerly hurried inside, her eyes soaking up the sumptuous sofas, gleaming floors and dazzling chandelier taking centre stage. She’d made it. Friday 18th September. The first day of the rest of her life.
- I looked at the garden, at the weeds weaving their way towards the house, merging with the ivy-coated walls. Something tugged at my memory. A smell – of unwashed skin, of bad breath and of something worse. Much worse. I shuddered, shivering and shaking. I remembered.
- I am falling like the darkness. All around me are unfamiliar smells and sounds, unknown predators weaving their way towards me. I steady myself and make for the safe sanctuary of the tree as the rain begins to stab at my eyes. I gulp, listening to the wind, no longer the gentle breeze of the day.
See how each opening draws you in and you find yourself starting to imagine the scene, the characters you’re going to meet in the story and how you already feel part of it.