Open with a story

Jerry Bellune

Jan 1, 2022


Compelling writers, speakers, preachers and others know to use this secret.

I once showed my Seton Hall University students this parody nuclear attack story:

Mary Jones opened her front door yesterday to retrieve the Newark News.

She saw a giant mushroom cloud above her New Jersey neighborhood.

She wondered if it was going to rain.

Your first 100 words are more important than the next 1,000.

Compelling writers use anecdotes and stories to open many news articles.

Here is one by Wall Street Journal reporter Sarah Needleman on heating and cooling costs:

As winter approached, Dan van der Ster worried that his utility bill would skyrocket as his family of five was home bound. But it hardly budged.

Bill Caldwell could find a story in almost anything, including a dead insect in a Crockpot™. The Cricket in the Crock and 11 other compelling stories won Bill a Pulitzer Prize.

The world in December is busy with things a man might mourn over constructively.

It is far fetched to grieve coherently over the death of a creature whose name one does not even know.

Yet I have not been able to put its ordeal out of my mind.

Rainy Lake Chronicle Editor Ted Hall deserved a Pulitzer for this kind of writing but was too modest to submit entries from his perch in northern Minnesota:

If anyone ever ran a contest for the smartest dog in our village, Daisy would certainly get into the finals.

She is part Scots terrier and part poodle.

From her second floor picture window, she can watch everything that happens in Finstad Lane.

As a compelling writer, you can open however you like, but tell a story.

Next: Share your life stories.

Jerry Bellune is a writing coach and author of “The Art of Compelling Writing, Volume 1.” The $14 print edition is available to you for $10. For a personally autographed copy, send your check to him at PO Box 1500, Lexington SC 29071-1500.