I dunno, I actually really love trying to come up with a beginning, and I feel like I have at least a decent grasp on how to do it. I used to struggle a lot with it, but I guess having a million WIPs really helps you get a feel for it. It's fun to deliver just the right amount of intrigue and attempt to lay out the basics of the world you've created in just a few sentences. I also loooooove cold opens. Just toss me right into some suspenseful action and I am yours.
I'll list a few of my openings here. Just the first three sentences of them, as opposed to the first paragraphs, as I've heard several times (and have since become a believer) that the first three sentences are some of the most important
sentences in your story.
Cancer — a horrid word and a horrid disease with only one objective: to take. It took her mother, it took her grandfather, it tried and failed to take her grandmother. And now, it’s trying to take her.
With this 3rd person limited narration, I figured something like this would work well with this story. And it's one of my all-time favorites. I guess it helps that cancer is something people can relate to, unfortunately, so the main character's anger and despair is justified when she basically comes out of the gate swinging.
Legend of Zelda
“Twenty-thousand Leagues under the sea and he thinks it’s a vacation.”
Link heard his crewmate’s sass before he felt the slap of a wet cloth against his face, thrusting him from sleep. He pulled the damp cloth off and wiped his eyes as he listened to her chastise him again.
There are plenty of people who don't like dialogue as an opener. But I love it! One good quote can really take me into a story. Of course, the stipulation is it has to be INTERESTING. 20,000 Leagues under the sea is pretty interesting, imo. Add in two main characters and characterization for both.
The nightmares had raged as strong as ever. Before him, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry burned to ash, crumbled to rubble; behind him, legions of Death Eaters, hissing and telling him to kill all the unworthy in his path. Draco Malfoy’s tired mind couldn’t be distracted from these visions.
This one is a miss, in my opinion. I feel like the 2nd sentence tried to have too much going on, making it drag a bit. Perhaps because I cheated and used a semi-colon. (≖_≖ )
Lee was happy to help Gaara in anyway he could, but did Gaara really have to send him on a search mission? Those had to be his least favorite — no fighting, lots of running, and days flying by. Three days in, and not a single sighting of that rogue band of thieves.
This one is another miss, because it's also my first draft. My first drafts are typically more straightforward, a little bland, until I get into the heads of the characters and the true nature of their stories. I usually go back and rewrite the opening several times throughout.
The roaring of a great beast.
This is a cold open one, starting right in the middle of the action. I tried to make it as hectic and crazy in as few words as possible, to get across the fast-paced way the main character's brain is processing things, purely based on his senses. I tried to go with "A great beast's roar", but it didn't have the same oomph. I wanted the sentence to be about the roar first and foremost, to go along with the "just his senses" motif, then add the great beast after to transition into a wider narrative.
Here are a few of my openings without any of my input. The lightning round. Some are hits, some are misses.
Shadow the Edgehog
“Vitals on the Project?”
He heard it again. Voices.
Cassie and Saul's story
Cassie strode through the graveyard near her campus, chilly air prickling her cheeks and hands. Held to her chest, a bouquet of violet hydrangeas and white orchids awaited their next lost soul. As she scanned the area, she spotted an older gentleman, translucent yet quite solid, sat atop a tombstone with head in his hands as he hunched over.
Avatar: The Last Airbender
The open sea rocked Prince Zuko’s ship. In the distance, an island of the Earth Kingdom sat nestled between Makapu Village and the Abbey, and while he wasn’t keen on landing there, his ship needed supplies. He’d left after the Avatar so quickly that his ragtag crew hadn’t realized the ship was low on food and coal until halfway across the bay.
How long had he been floating in space’s ever-expanding vacuum? It could’ve been decades but there was no way to tell. For however long he’d been drifting, he unfortunately had to drift alongside Rick.
The roaring of aircrafts overhead signaled their arrival. Half a dozen enemy planes unleashed fiery bombs from their backs, pelting the town below. From the front, brave air soldiers fought back, unloading their rotary guns, shattering the enemies where they flew.
Resident Evil VII
Moving out to the sticks wasn’t exactly what Persephone Black wanted. If she had it her way, she’d still be living in Chicago. Of course, her father had other plans.