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Stronger Writing: Starts, Beginnings, and Promises Made

Image of a portion of a reddish brown running track with painted lane divisions crossed by a perpendicular line with All writers are familiar with the aphorism “Finish What You Start”. It’s good advice. You can’t sell a story that’s not finished. Writers finish things.

But this post isn’t about that kind of starting and finishing.

This post is about starts and beginnings in action and dialogue: what they are, what they do, and how to use them to serve the story.

Let’s start with these pairs of sentences:

  • Louise smiled and began to walk away from me.
  • Louise smiled and walked away from me.
  • Ben grimaced and started unloading the dishwasher.
  • Ben grimaced and unloaded the dishwasher.
  • The queen began to rise from her throne.
  • The queen rose from her throne.

Do you see the difference? In each pair, the first sentence emphasizes the start of an action, whereas the second emphasizes the action itself.

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