How to Write a Memorable Beginning and Ending

beginning of a book, part one

Photo by Iryna Yeroshko

You know that well-worn, well-loved book that you’ve read many times? Simply turning to the first page and reading the opening line brings you into the story. And when you reach that final page and the very last sentence, the story melts away, leaving you content—or perhaps wanting just a bit more.

An intriguing beginning and a strong ending act as bookends to any good story. So how do you craft memorable first and last lines?

Once Upon a Time… Happily Ever After

1. Avoid clichés.

First and foremost, don’t rely on clichés like “It was a dark and stormy night” or “And they lived happily ever after.” Where’s the fun in that? The key to writing a beginning and ending that sticks with your readers long after they finish reading is coming up with something unique, something that couldn’t work in any other story.

2. Use vivid imagery.

To pull readers in from the start and leave them with an unforgettable end, describe what’s happening with clear and colorful language. Show them the world of your story, make them feel like they’re a part of it, and introduce them to the setting, the main character, the overarching theme—whatever element makes your story stand out.

3. Find the right moment.

You don’t have to start at the beginning or finish at the end. Stories often aren’t chronological, so play with different points in your story and see what works best. Sometimes it pays off to set the stage a bit, and other times, it’s best to throw your reader right into the action. And when it comes to the end, consider whether you want to leave your reader thinking about the past, the present, or the future of your narrative.

4. Be bold and powerful.

Short sentences and declarative statements add a punch. Think of them as punctuation marks that set off your story. If you pulled the first and last lines and made them into a poster, would they be able to stand alone? What do they say about the story as a whole? What emotions do they convey to your readers? Write confidently and with authority and your reader will trust you to take them along for the ride.

What makes a great beginning or ending? What are your favorite first and last lines?

PRACTICE

Write a beginning and an ending. You could write a single sentence for each or a couple of paragraphs, but work on your practice for about fifteen minutes.

When you’re finished, please share your practice in the comments section. And if you post, please respond to some of the other comments too!

About Melissa Tydell

Melissa Tydell is a freelance writer, content consultant, and blogger who enjoys sharing her love of the written word with others. You can connect with Melissa through her website, blog, or Twitter.

  • Let me tell you a story. My name is Carter Blake. I live in southwest Baltimore in a row house smack in the center of a shitty neighborhood. I’m fourteen and a junior at Johns-Hopkins University. I had skipped grades a few times. Not the easiest way to live, but my options were limited. I’d either be pummeled daily for being a total geek in high school or I’d be a pariah in college. I chose the latter. Funny thing:
    what used to get me beat up almost every day – intelligence – got me a lot of respect in the university. I arrived home after a series of lectures on Renormalization.

    The professor, Dr. Kevin Rosenthal, had interesting ideas on their applications in
    the area of cold fission. I got some amusement out of seeing most of the older
    classmates staring slack jawed after each of Professor Rosenthal’s more
    abstract lectures. They had stunned looks on their faces when he delved into his own hypotheses regarding Perturbation theory. The non-befuddled ones would simply struggle to stay awake due to their all night cram sessions. The Prof frowns on sleeping in class and will use a slumbering student as target practice with his
    chalk-laden eraser. Unlike my other professors, he preferred chalk boards to
    dry erase ones. For those three of us still tuned in, his lectures were as stimulating to the mind as a Penthouse centerfold is to the body.

    I threw my jacket over the banister, just inside the back door, and trudged up
    the stairs to my bedroom. I dropped the load of books from my back to the floor
    with a satisfying thud and a sigh of relief. I collapsed in front of my computer, flicked in on, grabbed a soda from a mini-fridge nearby and waited for the system to start up. Afternoons were when I indulged in my favorite role-playing game, BattleHammer. It’s a swords and sorcery, hack-and-slash, dungeon crawler type RPG. I played the tabletop version on the weekends, but this was my fix between sessions. As the computer came on, I hit a button on the stereo remote. Seconds later, the first notes from an Imagine Dragons album wafted from the speakers. I cranked up the volume to window vibrating and spun back to the monitor.

    I loaded my current favorite BattleHammer avatar, a dark dwarf fighter named
    Drago the Clanless. He was Clanless because Mordecai, the Rakshasha wizard, had wiped them out. Drago vowed on his dead clans’ souls he’d wear the mage’s guts for garters and his skull for a cap. While I waited for him to load, I received a message from another gamer with the screen name of “Gandalf.” I rolled my eyes at that, and clicked to check his profile. I laughed when I noticed the character he was controlling was one of a race called “treebeard” named “Pippin.”

    After I played for a few hours, I spun in my chair, and flipped open the mini-fridge. I scowled at its bare shelves. ‘Remember to restock.’ I clicked off the stereo, trotted downstairs to get another soda and considered making dinner. Mom wasn’t due home for an hour. Father disappeared around the time I turned three. I didn’t have many memories of him, only a vague short mental film of a seemingly powerful yet shadowy person. I wasn’t too fond of him for what he did, though I desperately, and secretly, desired to meet him.

    I grabbed steaks from the refrigerator and tossed them on the counter. Stepping
    out the back door, I walked over to ignite the charcoal in my grill. I wanted it warming up while I marinated the beef in a glass baking pan. I walked back
    in and over to the counter. I poured vodka over the beautiful meat (I am an
    avowed steak lover), adding spices and some extra virgin olive oil. I stuck the
    pan of steaks in the fridge and stood there; debating what else to make. My
    cell rang and I answered without looking at the id.

    “This is Carter.”

    “It’s Daphne,” came the melodious reply.

    Daphne Sinclaire is 24, and the most gorgeous lab partner a guy would want. She stands at 167.6 cm, and weighs in at 83.9 kilos of firm athleticism. She has coppery
    red hair, sea foam green eyes and an awesome 34D-32-38 body. How do I know her measurements? Simple: I asked.

    At the start of the semester I won a bet with her. We’d been randomly paired for a
    science expo which had a cash prize of $5,000 each and, better yet, a write-up
    in Scientific American. Daphne wasn’t too pleased, especially when she learned that not only could she not trade partners, but this project would also affect our final marks. She made it perfectly clear that she didn’t want her grade to depend on, as she put it, “A little kid.” To attempt to placate her, I declared we’d win. She scoffed. I challenged her to place a wager. The terms were simple: if she won (by our
    losing), I’d be her personal servant for three years, no task refused. If I won (by being naturally right about the outcome), I would be able to ask her five questions that she had to answer. Confident that we’d lose, she agreed.

    Not only did our exhibition of sustainable cold fission win, we were invited to
    demonstrate it to all sorts of government officials. Once we’d won, my first question was what her measurements were. So far, it was the only one after two years. Since then, she had become a lot friendlier.

    “What can I do for you?” I asked.

    “I’m hoping you’d be willing to assist me with my psych assignment,” she replied.

    “Certainly. Have you had dinner?”

    “Nope. Why?”

    “You’re welcome join Mom and me. We’re having steak and…something.”

    She laughed, causing a rush of heat to the pit of my stomach. “Alright. What time should I arrive?”

    “How about…,” I paused.

    “Well?” she prompted.

    “ASAP.”

    Daphne laughed again, “Roger wilco,” then disconnected.

    I enjoyed hearing the military jargon from her. She’d picked it up from her dad, an Army sergeant.

    My heart flipped. A female was about to be a guest of mine for the first time! To ask if I was excited would be like asking if a bear shit in the woods. A major understatement. Usually, I went over to her apartment on campus.

    I grabbed three hefty potatoes from the bin, washed them, wrapped them in foil with a dash of salt and olive oil and slung them in the oven. I raced upstairs to shower. I arrived in my room before I remembered I had left the blasted thing off. Slapping my forehead in frustration, I hurried down and set it for 350 degrees. I ran back up, stripped and jumped into the shower.

    While tying my sneakers, I heard a knock at the front door. I scampered downstairs and swung it open. The sight of her took my breath away. Daphne wore a light green tank top that accentuated her red hair. Emerald eyes, were highlighted by purple eye shadow and a black denim mini-skirt that drew my interest. On her left wrist, she had on a gold hoop bracelet and an antique Mickey Mouse wristwatch. Her feet were in black flats. ‘You are so gorgeous,’ I said to myself. I didn’t have the courage to say it aloud.

    I stood back and waved her in. She smiled and entered, turning with her right hand positioned so I couldn’t tell what she was carrying. After a few moments, she presented a bottle of Pinot Noir with a flourish. I chuckled at the expression on her face which seemed to say, “Look at what I did.”

    “Why are you staring?” she asked with a smile.

    “You’re cute.”

    “Carter,” she said with a rise in inflection at the end. “Don’t.”

    I raised my hands in surrender. “Relax. I’m not making another pass. The last attempt and subsequent shooting down was enough of a lesson.”

    I took the wine from her, opened the bottle so it could breathe, and placed it on the counter. “Can you think of anything else we should have? Potatoes are baking in the oven.” I gestured at the refrigerator.

    Daphne shrugged and opened the doors of the fridge. As she searched, I pulled the steaks out and took them over to the grill. They were just beginning to sizzle when my mom’s car rolled up in the alley. She strolled through the back gate and waved. Mom was wearing her usual office uniform: blue jeans, a partially tucked white blouse and black tennis shoes. Her auburn hair pulled into a messy bun. A ink pen stuck out of it. Her laptop was slung over her right shoulder as always. Mom is one of the few women I know who didn’t carry a purse. Her brown eyes seemed tired. She walked over and pulled me down for a forehead kiss. She had to stand on tiptoes to do so; she’s 165.1 centimeters, and I’m 185.42. Yeah, I’m an overachiever in everything.

    “Hey, baby,” she said. “How was school?”

    “Informative,” I replied, “as always.”

    Mom chuckled. “I noticed Daphne’s car parked out front. Is she staying for dinner?”

    “Yes’m. She brought red wine for the two of you. Sounds like she’s making a salad.”

    “I wish you wouldn’t ask our guests to assist with meals,” Mom complained, tucking her blouse the rest of the way into her jeans.

    “Ordinarily, I probably would not. However, she has asked for homework assistance, don’t you think it’s fair I be compensated for my time?”

    Mom shook her head with a laugh and went into the house after readjusting her bun. I saw her greet my study partner through the back window. Twenty minutes after I started, the steaks were done.

    • eva rose

      I was a bit lost in the transition from university classes to a fourteen-year old cooking steaks on the grill. Great detail in your descriptions and the workings of a “geek” mind. Love the image of a flying chalk-laden eraser!

  • Thank You Thank You Thank You! Just what I needed. Awesome!

    • Melissa

      So great to hear — hope this provides some writing inspiration!

  • eva rose

    Confusion clouded my vision. I woke from deep sleep with no memory of boarding this place, which moved at whistling speed. My seat rocked gently as I hurtled through space. Windows had been omitted from the cabin, adding more confusion. Instead of panic I just felt sleepy. The plane’s ambiance made me smile: plush leather seats, roomy aisles, soft lighting and peaceful music which tugged my return to sleep. I resisted and tried to pursue my racing thoughts. “I’m travelling first class! How did I manage that? Now, where are my shoes?”
    I checked under the seats, Had I really boarded without them? The thought amused me. Shoes were the first thing I stripped off at home. No matter. There would be sandals in my luggage to slip on at my destination. I didn’t remember carrying luggage but travelers always had luggage, didn’t they? I was glad I’d chosen loose clothing for travel; tight, formal clothes irritated me. I didn’t really care how I looked, or about anything except where I was going. Why couldn’t I remember where I was headed?
    ******
    (end) Dream or not,I wanted to stay here. My former life was fading fast. My soul reached for the light.

  • Puja

    Raye was late for class—and some tall idiot was making her later by the minute.

    As he stood in her path, unconsciously blocking her way, Raye glimpsed the iron-on patch on his backpack. It read “CREW.” Figured, she thought to herself irrationally. All the athlete stereotypes were negative, and with good reason, she would say. They all had God complexes of course. Football players were incurably dumb, basketball players palpably absent from their drama and sociology classes, soccer players loud in their random opinions that often had little to do with the topic at hand. But the rowing team. Raye didn’t personally know anyone from the rowing team, but she suddenly decided, as her frustration mounted and she worried the essay in her hand, that you really couldn’t trust someone whose athleticism involved sitting on his ass.

    *

    Her hair a black sheet down her back, Raye waited at the entrance to the dorm building. Her suitcase was packed with the practical things: jeans, toiletries, her raincoat. He’d said Oregon could get damp this time of year. “Don’ worry, mom’s always prepared. She’s like a Boy Scout,” he laughed as he tucked her hair behind her ear. Raye smiled to herself.

    She waited and she waited and she called him, but there was no answer.

    And it occurred to her then, a cruel spark skittering to the surface, that maybe he wasn’t coming. That ten to one, he was still sitting in his car out in the parking lot, too afraid to come for her and unwilling to make room for her in his life.

    • That’s a sad ending Puja.

    • Paul Owen

      This is engaging, Puja. And sad. Your phrase “a cruel spark skittering to the surface” is vivid and poignant. Thanks for sharing!

  • Guest

    She woke with the words fully formed, blossoming on her lips like moon flowers.
    Morning would be late again, hours behind this internal alarm. He slept beside her—untouched by the power of the thought that filled her body. How could he not know? She lay still, letting the darkness reveal the room around her. Familiar objects were comforting; she could find her way in the dark here. In a few hours, daylight would wash over everything and the rhythm of routine would push her words aside. She would do what was expected. She would look normal. She would breathe. The words returned, “I want to die.”

    *End*

    The Parkway glittered with early morning sun, the promenade of flags lilting with
    the breeze. The path was clear all the way to the Rodin. It was a good day to walk in cool white marble, to breathe its stillness, and understand the disappointment of perfection.

    • Pamela J. Shapiro

      This was mine. Sorry, I don’t know why it showed up as “guest.” I am registered.

      • Great practice Pam! I like the line “the words returned, I want to die” They bring us back to the idea that she woke up with this thought nicely.

    • Paul Owen

      “The disappointment of perfection” – that’s a phrase to ponder! I love the flow of your writing, Pamela

    • Linda Carmi

      My curiosity is going wild…would love to read the middle! Good writing.

  • Karoline Kingley

    Pride and Prejudice has my favorite opening line by far. After reading it multiple times, I realized that Jane Austen summed up the driving force of the entire story in that one sentence. When writing my book I wondered if I should attempt to open similarly, but then I concluded that the first sentence doesn’t necessarily have to be the thesis. Sometimes it’s okay to hook the reader by throwing them in the middle of an action scene.

    • Oh, the best opening I’ve ever read was from Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. Haunting from the first line to the last. But yeah, Austen did sum up her novel in that opening line 🙂

      • Melissa

        I love both of those books. I took a class on Austen in grad school and we discussed that first line in Pride & Prejudice — you’re right, it really sets up the whole theme of the novel.

        • I adore Austen. Studied Victorian women’s lit a bit intensely in my undergrad.

      • Guest

        This was my choice too, Giulia from Rebecca. Sometimes I read a great beginning or ending and think how wonderful they are, but there are not many that come to mind immediately like “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…”

  • “Come away with me.” Had he really only whispered those words three short weeks ago? It seemed a life time ago. She wasn’t a girl to be taken in by a handsome face or a brilliant smile. He’d had both of those, but it’d been his voice that had brought her here. Here, in this moment, where she stood at the edge of forever which was only an instant, there was still only his voice tethering her to life.
    *
    The beeps of the machines that kept her alive was the song of his guilt.

    • Pamela J. Shapiro

      Just back from school and anxious to catch up on recent posts. Giulia, I love that it was his voice that brought her to this moment. Voice is so powerful and seductive, but often overlooked in prose. I’d like to hear more.

      • This is one practice I might play with to see I have a story in it. Glad you enjoyed it Pam.

        • Pamela J. Shapiro

          Glad to hear that. I’m going to try to finish the middle of mine as well.

    • Paul Owen

      That ending line is powerful, Giulia. Nicely done!

    • Puja

      I enjoyed both the beginning and the ending, and both make me want to read the middle!

      • Me too! I don’t know what the middle is yet if that helps any 🙂

  • Paul Owen

    A fun prompt, Melissa. Here’s my attempt:

    Beginning:

    Pim jolted awake. The gentle sway of the houseboat had turned into a sudden dip. Now he heard boot steps getting louder on the deck. Back so soon? Too soon. Pim grabbed his jacket and darted aft, looking for the larger window near the stern. He found it, swung it open, and climbed out just as he heard the footsteps enter the cabin. A quick glance up the deck showed no one. He hopped over the railing onto shore and sprinted into the darkness.

    Ending:

    Pim caught Erin’s eye and smiled. A brief smile, turning into a grimace as he shifted his leg. That bright green cast couldn’t come off soon enough. At least they had a few days’ motoring down the river when there was little to do but rest. A cool breeze picked up as he settled back to watch the sunset.

    • Sounds like a romantic mystery to me Paul.

      • Paul Owen

        Well, maybe it is! 🙂

    • Pamela J. Shapiro

      This very clean. I like that the writing is straightforward and tells a good story with just the right amount of detail. .

      • Paul Owen

        Thanks for the note, Pamela

  • My first time posting here….YIKES! Is it always this hard to hit POST??? :0)
    I am not that new to writing{blogging} but I am rather new to fiction. A great site and prompt!
    Here goes:

    Beginning:

    Running late…again. Misplaced keys…again. Neglected to call the mother…again. The list of “agains” rattled through Miranda’s brain as she struggled to open the van door while balancing 3 book bags, a travel mug of coffee, and a pair of sunglasses.

    “Normal people would not deal with life this way!” she says half mumbling through the newly found keys that dangle from her mouth.

    Then again, what was “normal” anyway?

    Certainly “normal” did not include 3 children 13, 8, and 7. “Normal” would not include THREE different men for those children either. “Normal” definitely did not include the drama of those “fathers” either.

    Sighing, she held the half-broken door of the van open so the kids…all boys…could trample on in.

    It was not as if she ASKED for this situation. She had one son of her own, but the other two arrived at her doorstep {within days of one another} following a cryptic letter {withing DAYS of one another} from BOTH siblings explaining how they simply “could not handle being a parent” and since Miranda was so great at it she, could she take them in just “until”.

    Until WHAT??? Until they grew up? Until they left for college? Until either sets of “parents” decided to grow up?

    Who knows. The siblings, both sisters, communicated so sporadically that neither one new that the other was planning the same thing at the same time.

    Sigh.

    How many times can a person “sigh” in a day before they keel over from hyperventilating?

    “Maybe that’s not such a bad idea. Then there could be the possibility of sleep.” Miranda started the van and backed out of the driveway.

    Ending:

    Sliding the bedroom door open, Miranda quietly walked into the dimly lit bedroom that once housed three young boys. Where three once were, there was now just one.

    One bed. One desk. One dresser with the drawers opened and clothing spilling out…again!

    Another day passed and she still became overcome with tears at the thought of “her boys” not being around.

    “How do others do this?” she whispered, low enough so as to avoid waking the now young man of 17 sleeping, half hanging off the side of the bed.

    “Here’s to another day we survived kiddo” she is still whispering as she strokes the boys hair from his eyes.

    She turns quietly and leaves the room, being sure to keep the door slightly ajar…just in case.

    • Jeannette

      I still haven’t hit post in response to a prompt. I decided I’d start in the comments section. Because I haven’t posted, your post caught my attention. I love your practice. I wanted to read the whole story just from this. 🙂 Congrats on hitting “post.”

  • My favorite beginning has always been from Dickens “A Christmas Carol”:

    “Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge’s name was good upon ‘Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

    Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.”

    Is that considered the “beginning” or would the beginning simply be the first few lines???

    • Melissa

      You could consider either “the beginning” — the important part is that it draws you into the story!

    • Love that beginning! Grabs you right off doesn’t it. Dickens is masterful and drawing people in to a story.

  • Pamela J. Shapiro

    The first and last lines of my “well-worn, well-loved” book, The Summer Before the Dark, by Doris Lessing. It was $1.75 new!

    “A woman stood on her back step, arms folded, waiting.”

    “No one noticed Kate with her suitcase. So she picked it up, let heself unobserved out of the flat, and made her way to the bus stop and so home.”

    Excellent prompt. Thank you! This one may work for me more than once..

    • Melissa

      Thanks for sharing. Glad you liked the prompt!

      • NS

        OMG OMG

  • George McNeese

    I tinkered with a beginning and ending to a story I’ve been meaning to write for some time. Here’s how it begins:

    Oliver unfolded a letter he wrote to his father a year ago. The creases were worn, the ends ripped. He was going to send it, but never did. The cell phone rang and vibrated in his pocket. He stuffed the letter in his duffer bag and fished the phone out.

    “Yes.”
    “Oliver, it’s Tanya.”
    Oliver’s face turned gloomy listening to her sister, as if the afternoon wasn’t gloomy enough with the gray overcast skies.
    “I’m at the station,” Oliver said. “Been here for a few minutes now.”
    “Be there in about fifteen.”
    “Don’t rush on my account.” Oliver hung up and dropped the phone in his jacket.

  • Patrick Marchand

    Silence. Then a noise, a rumble, a roar.
    Neil felt himself tugged forward as the craft turned toward the great open sea, the rising speed and the fast approaching sea made Neil feel as if the shuttle was aiming to pierce through the waves, right into Neptune’s domain. But the hefty craft shifted its wings and with a great lurch upwards, launched into the sky; final destination: Cassiopea.

    « Neil, the thrusters have been severely damaged by – » Jada’s cry was cut short when a sudden thrust to the left made her lose her footing and smash into the wall, Neil looked at her for an instant, and though he more than anything wanted to make sure she was ok, he concentrated at the task at hand, if he couldnt land them safely then it was better for her to be unconscious.

    The complete engine failure light was blinking and the shuttle was tipping quite rapidly towards the bottom, by Jupiter, he thought, what was he going to do? Around him was mostly litter, clothes, bolts, metal, and one of the seats, all floating around in a weird state of free fall.

    Then Neil had an idea, he grabbed the seat and used the metal to cut through the fabric, he then attached the varying pieces of fabric together with the bolts, grabbed Jada, opened the hatch and jumped off.

    The sundering roar of the air blasted through them and coat into the makeshift parachute, making it expand suddenly like some giant, stretching octopus. The soft rumble of the wind could be felt on his face as he slowly made his way to the safety of land, landing with a great rustle in the leaves and branches of the forest.

    He looked around him, still dizzy from the fall. He looked at the many scared faces and suddenly smiled, because there was one thing he had never forgotten about his homeland, the constant surprise that something could disturb the silence.

    • Nadia Clark

      I like how this circles back to the beginning. That’s definitely one way to strengthen an ending. Nicely done.
      Your descriptions are solid. I especially like how you use sound in your opening to bring us into the story. It’s more common to use the sense of sight, but using the sounds piqued my interest in a great way.

  • Jeannette

    Beginning:

    Kara leaned against the counter, casually sipping her beer.
    Too relaxed for what she was waiting to know, but then she’d done this before.
    She knew what would happen, no matter the result. A negative test meant life
    went on. A positive test meant a trip to the abortion clinic. The latter was a
    bit more costly, but it wasn’t rocket science. She wasn’t about to get married
    and she wasn’t raising a kid alone or ruining her body for someone else’s baby.

    Ending:
    Zach’s stomach growled, as he settled the baby into Kara’s
    arms. “I think I’m going to get some food,” he laughed. “Will you be alright?”

    “I think we’ll manage,” she smiled, looking at her little
    one contentedly.

    Zach kissed Kara’s forehead and stroked the baby’s cheek. “Be
    back soon,” he whispered before leaving them alone to bond.

    Kara stared into her son’s small face. Bright blue eyes
    stared back at her. Almost four years ago, she had ended such a tiny thing’s
    life. She knew why she’d started drinking so frequently then. She was trying to
    hide from the fact she’d killed such an innocent part of herself. She couldn’t
    fully regret her choice, because it had taught her the true value of life in
    such a way that she would never forget it. Her child was an extension of her. A
    piece of her heart that would never beat solely for her again.

    • Boo

      She’s drinking beer while she was pregnant in the beginning? Tsk tsk

  • This is the beginning and end of my work in progress. Stripped down and standing alone, without the meat of the story between, they seem a little insubstantial. This is a great exercise!

    Beginning:
    She was coming home. Stirred up and restless, I sat on the porch, straining my eyes for a glimpse of her car. I had missed my dearest friend. Memories of that pivotal summer many years ago swept over me. The summer I had grown up. We had gone out in search of golden days, like a pan handler in search of gold, my best friend and I. We had put our feet into the stream of life as adults that year.

    Ending:
    Rocking contentedly to the sounds of the neighborhood I gaze out at the life flowing by. Shelby has been home for as long as I can remember. A pretty town with shady oak trees and big old houses, it reminds me of a pond, smooth on the surface, tranquil and quiet; but underneath there’s a current. That current brings people home, it brings them love, pulls them together and tears them apart. It’s the current of life and while life is hard it’s also good.

    Sitting there on the front porch of Mama’s big lady of a house, I’m thankful. Thankful for sisters. Whatever lies ahead I can face it. I won’t be alone.

    • Jeannette

      I love the ending. The part about the current gave me chills. The imagery is awesome.

      • Thanks so much Jeannette, that’s encouraging!

    • I love the repetition of themes here–home, sitting on the porch, watching life flowing buy, the analogy of a stream. It’s a great way to bring it all back to where it started.

    • Sarah Woollard

      That is a great beginning and ending. They tie the two together.

  • Or, alternatively, you can take a worn-out cliche and start a book with it anyway. I was so surprised to finally read Madeleine Enwright’s ‘A Wrinkle In Time’ and find it starts with the words, ‘It was a dark and stormy night’!

  • George McNeese

    I wrote a beginning in my post, but didn’t get a chance to put in the ending. So, here it is:

    Oliver looked bewildered. He backpedaled out of his dad’s room. Three nurses rushed into the room. One nurse carted a defibrillator as the second nurse tore the robe off, exposing his chest. Oliver turned pale. He had never seen anyone die in front of him. The third nurse closed the room off with a curtain.

    Oliver walked back into the waiting room. He sat down, clasped his hands behind his head and pushed his body down to breathe. He gasped for air, straining to hold back the tears.

    “Sir?” the nurse said. Oliver loosened his grip and sat up. “Do you want to back in?” Oliver nodded. The nurse held the door open. Oliver pulled the folded sheet in his pocket and stared at it.

    “Sir?”

    “I’m coming,” Oliver replied. He unfolded the letter, crumpled it, and threw it in the trash can. The nurse led him back into the room.

  • themagicviolinist

    I’d start with “once upon a time,” but that’s just too much of an ordinary start for a story like mine.

    The felt like the beginning; confusing, exhilarating, and hopeful.

    Those two sentences are something I just made up. I’m thinking about using them for a story, though I’m not sure which one. 😉

    • themagicviolinist

      Whoops! I accidentally deleted the word, “end” in my ending sentence. ;P

      It’s supposed to be: The end felt like the beginning; confusing, exhilarating, and hopeful.

  • aasha

    once upon a time is just a bland boring and an option that has been used to death. find a new beginning people

  • Shawnte W.

    My death wasn’t spectacular; it wasn’t memorable or even
    heroic. My death wasn’t even that heart wrenching for those who weren’t friends
    or family. But this is not about how I died but rather what happened after I
    died. I had trouble believing that I was a ghost, I didn’t feel like a ghost or
    even look like a ghost for that matter. I stood in front of the mirror in the
    bedroom that had been mine for nearly 17 years. Staring at my reflection as I
    contemplated my funeral that had happened not even an hour ago, I saw my eyes
    were bright and shining and my hair lush and soft brown. My skin even held a
    hint of the tan I got kayaking last weekend, not at all pale and dead like in
    the movies. I wasn’t translucent or even floating several feet above the
    ground. I stood there firm and sure in front of the mirror. I was dead and
    looked like I was about to hit the mall with my friends.

    I don’t have an ending yet…

    • Robin

      Love it Shawnte, more please???!

    • Irfan Ahmed

      wow <3

  • Macady Watson

    There was a book I read that had an AMAZING beginning. Really pulled you in. Let’s see if I can quote it. Ahem-
    The king killed my canary today.
    Now, I know full well that the customary beginning for a story such as mine is: “Once upon a time, when wishes still came true, there lived a poor orphan Goose Girl,” or some such fiddle-faddle. But what do I care for custom? ‘Tis my own story and I shall tell it as I please. And seeing as how I find my own self plunged up to the neck in it, I see no reason why you should not be also.
    I resume.
    The King killed my canary today.
    (The book is ‘Goose Chase’ 🙂

  • christos tusis

    who ca help me write a beginning and an ending for the story entitled ”A Day to Remember.”