What Makes an Effective Story Opening?

Here is a snapshot of the boardwork we did today. Remember that an effective opening should have some of these, at least.


Week 3 – The Plan

Welcome to the Class Blog. Every Monday you’ll find information about what we’re doing each week.  You’re welcome to throw in your own thoughts and ideas using the comment box afterwards. I’m always keen to hear what you’ve got to say.

Monday 29th

We’re going to be looking at the Close Reading Practice assessment you completed on Wednesday. I’ll return your papers and, while I know you’ll want to go through the whole thing, I’m going to focus only on the Analysis questions marked (A) at this stage. Things will become clear later. Lots of sharing today.

Tuesday 30th

This will be the first day we start to think about J. D. Salinger’s ‘The Catcher in the Rye’.   This will be our main Prose text for the year. I love it and it has had a major influence on me; but don’t let that put you off! The following links may help.

Salinger’s New York

Holden Caulfield’s Goddam War

The Praises and Critcisms of J. D Salinger’s ‘The Catcher in the Rye’

BBC’s Obituary of J. D. Salinger

Generally, I’ll give you the books and we’ll spend time looking at the opening paragraph which is filled with unanswered questions and intriguing moments.

We’ll also be discussing the ‘invention’ of the teenager and how the role of the teenager has changed over the years.

Some of this discussion will, inevitably, cross over in to the writing aspect of the course, which makes sense, I think.

Wednesday 31st

Chapter One of ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ introduces us to many of Holden Caulfeld’s problems and we’ll discuss these in more depth. You will be writing your first Critical Essay on the opening chapter so pay particular attention to what is going on. This week I expect you to read the opening 50 pages or so and focus on the beginning of his journey. Are you beginning to notice some recurring themes? The red hat? The Ducks? Anything else? Why do you think they might be significant?

In the second period of the double, we’ll start to flesh out some of the ideas we’ve been developing in Creative Writing. Thinking back to the opening chapters we read the other day, how can you use those ideas along with effective description and sophisticated style and language to write an effective opening to your story? I’m giving you a week to go away and write your story so get cracking on with it today.

Thursday 1st September

Today we’ll look, in more detail, at the context question. It is the focus of this month’s Newspaper homework and it is not as difficult as you may first think. I will have  a wee note for you but not much as a few examples will be more than enough to get you going. Newspaper work due tomorrow.

Friday 2nd September

Catch up day. A nice free end of the week where you can work on any of the tasks I’ve given you this week. I’ll be here to answer and questions you have or you can simply get on with things.


Opening 50 pages of ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ for Monday

Creative Writing piece by Wednesday

Newspaper work for Friday

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