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How to Write an Interesting Opening to your MG or YA Novel

Welcome to the Storyteller’s Blog. Today, we will be discussing how to open your MG or YA novel.

Many writers and editors suggest different beginnings for your novel. Some may say introduce the character’s world before you drop them in an overwhelming incident.

Others will say start immediately with the action to grab the reader’s attention.

Either way, there are three things to remember when starting.

1.     Introduce the reader to the protagonist.

I have read many manuscripts from clients or critique partners that don’t introduce the main character until page three. Really? Are we supposed to think of him/her as “boy” / “girl?”


We need a clear understanding about who they are and why they are the main character.


You don’t have to come out and state their age, but a reference to “starting 7th grade” or “high school” or a description of their everyday life does the trick.

And you don’t have to describe their physical characteristics until later, preferably spaced out organically in dialog or actions, but their name and age should be apparent.

Here are a few examples of first sentences and first paragraphs (there will be another blog post on both later in the month)


ie. Greenwild: The World Behind the Door by Pari Thomson


The sandstorm arrived like a leopard on the hunt; fast and very wild.

Daisy held her breath as sand glittered through the air. It was biting her cheeks in bright painful dashes, but she couldn’t take her eyes off the storm.

“This way,” Ma had to shout over the wind. Now!”


Daisy is clearly a girl, young enough to be guided by her mother. This tells me this novel is for middle grade.

ie. Wilderlore: The Accidental Apprentice by Amanda Foody

  Barclay Thorne knew almost all there was to know about mushrooms, and there was a lot to know.

He knew the poisonous ones never grew on trees. He knew the red one with white spots made warts bubble up between toes, but the white ones with red spots cured wart, welts, and pustules of all kinds.

            This not only tells you the main character’s name but gives you a glimpse into his everyday world, which has an interesting twist.

Here are examples of the opening scenes from two of my published novels, a YA dystopian and a MG Historical Fiction


RATGIRL: Song of the Viper by Gayle C. Krause


“We are orphans. We use our brains and our bodies to survive. But the only things that thrive in Metro City are the rats, and not all of them are rodents.”


                                                                                                --Jax Stone

Whoever said the teen years were the best of a girl’s life didn’t come from Metro City. Hell, they can’t imagine what it’s like to be me, living in a sewer tunnel by day, and foraging the forest for food, or scavenging through abandoned mansions at night. Anything I find that can’t be used to survive this hellhole; I trade for money.




Twice Betrayed by Gayle C. Krause


            The coming revolution is like my life. What’s the difference between unjust laws and unfair rules? The colonies are clenched in the fist of an unreasonable king, and I am under the thumb of an unreasonable grandmother. General Washington should send her to talk to King George. He’d cut us loose in a minute so not to listen to her rigid expectations.

            No, no one argues with a grandmother as strict as mine.


Leave a comment below and send me your first paragraph in my message box if you’d like me to critique your story opening.

Happy writing!

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1 comentário

Interesting post! I've never been a fan of in medias res openings myself. I believe even the most action packed story is 'character driven.' Without someone to care about or root for, action is just 'special effects.' But there's nothing wrong with mixing a bit of both or having an active introduction to the character. Introductions don't have to be boring.

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