Blog: Introduction example

Going off the topic of introductions, I thought it would be prudent for me to draft up a quick introduction of my own and explain some of the different factors of it.

“Helen didn’t know she was dying. But she didn’t notice most things anymore. She didn’t notice the rasping sign her oxygen tank made or the fact that her own breathing sounded worse, like someone had stuck sand in her throat. She didn’t notice the way her handkerchief was sprinkled with crimson droplets every time she used it and that her hand shook so bad she could hardly cover her mouth when coughing. She didn’t notice the way the other people looked at her. The nurses whose smiles said that they knew what was coming. The other residents looked with fear hidden behind their smiles; not scared for Helen, but that it might happen to them. Sometimes, Helen’s relatives visited. Tony, her son, was always on his cell phone and could hardly even look his mother in the eye. Kate and Jessica were the twin granddaughters who couldn’t stop bickering. Helen didn’t notice that they hardly cared about her anymore. They prepared for this, the doctors said this was going to happen a few months ago: it was why she was here.”

The first sentence in the introduction serves two primary purposes. The first is that it creates a very obvious questions in the reader’s mind. Why is the character dying, and why don’t they know? This serves to draw the reader in because they want to know the answer those questions. The second purpose is to build the foundation for both Helen’s character and the rest of the plot.

For the majority of following sentences, I start hinting at what is wrong with Helen; you learn that she has health problems. Then that she is at a medical establishment and then finally that she does not have long to live. Finally, I end the paragraph with a sentence that helps set up the rest of the story. The reader now knows that Helen is dying, but not how, and that she is ‘here’ but not exactly where here is. I can then use that vagueness to draw the reader into the rest of the story because it is there that I will explain everything.

It should probably go without saying that not every introduction should be styled this way. There are lots of variables, from the type of story that is being written to the writer’s own style.

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