Tracy Rains
Elementary Education, Composition and Rhetoric
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Upper Primary
4, 5
  • Compare and Contrast
  • English Language Arts
  • Narrative Writing
  • Story Elements
  • License:
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
    Media Formats:
    Downloadable docs, Interactive, Text/HTML, Video

    Narrative Writing: Better Beginnings

    Narrative Writing:  Better Beginnings


    In this seminar, you will be focusing on developing a “better beginning” to a narrative writing piece. The purpose of narrative writing is to entertain, and the beginning of your piece is an important first step. You will learn how to “hook” your reader in the beginning. Some ways you can do this is by introducing developed characters, establishing an exciting or relatable setting,  and creating the mood of your piece. In this seminar, you will work on improving all of these to create a “Better Beginning” to your narrative writing.


    CC.1.4.4.M/ 1.4.5.M
    Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events.


    Introductory warm-up activity.

    Listen to this song as an overall introduction to narrative writing.  Then watch this powtoons video that focuses on the importance of the hook or lead in a narrative. This animation provides examples of strong hooks or leads from mentor texts/ authors. Watch the animation a second time and pause it after each mentor text hook is displayed. Here is a mind map activity that connects these examples to the parts of the beginning we are focusing on in this seminar: characters, setting, and creating mood.   


    Read or watch the resources to learn about this concept, then do the practice activity.




    Read this article from Creative Writing Now.  This article stresses the importance of the beginning, but also warns writers to not get too intimidated by writing the beginning. It provides elements to include in your beginning and ideas for how to hook your reader. It also provides some areas that could cause a writer to struggle with a “better beginning,” and explains how to avoid those pitfalls.

    Watch this video on writing catchy hooks. This video highlights 4 ways to possibly hook your reader. Use this guide to take notes and reflect on these 4 possible hooks.

    You will find a PDF that has even more examples of hook options.  These hooks include Shocking Statement, Dialogue, Onomatopoeia, Question, Personal Opinion, Persuasive Statement, and Mysterious Statement.  On the PDF, each example is highlighted and examples of each type are given. Read through the types and examples and then choose at least 2 types that you want to attempt if you had to write a narrative about a fairy and a troll. Try to brainstorm a hook for each type you choose and use this guide to record them.



    Discuss your ideas / opinions / understandings.


    You will be choosing 5 of your favorite books. Read the beginnings of each one and think about what you have learned about hooking the reader. As you read the beginnings, think about and answer the following questions: 1). Does this book hook you?  2). What elements are present in the beginning- characters, setting, mood, hook?  3).  Could this beginning be improved?  

    You will create a Google Slides presentation that highlights the beginnings of the 5 books you choose.  On each slide you will include:

    • The book title

    • An excerpt of the beginning

    • The answers to the questions listed above

    • An image of the book cover or other representation of the book.  

    • ALSO create a title slide


    Now it is time to self-check how much you have learned about the this topic.  If you do not know as much as you thought, go back to the “Explore” section of this seminar and reread, rewatch, or redo the activities listed.  See your facilitator if you have questions.

    Click here to take the quiz online. You do not have to log into the quiz site in order to take this quiz. If a window pops up asking you to sign up for the quiz site, just close the sign-up window and start your quiz.


    This is a task or project where you can show what you know.



    *Activity from and originally created by Margot Southall - This activity has been modified from the original.

    PART A- Slides 3-6

    You will now be given a series of boring beginnings on the attached Google Slideshow- your job will be to take the “boring beginning” and rewrite it into a “better beginning” using the strategies you have learned in this seminar.  Your job will be to put the main character in the setting and use a beginning that grabs the reader’s attention and creates a mood of excitement or worry.  Use one or more of these strategies:

    • An Action

    • Dialogue or Exclamation

    • A Thought or Question

    • A Sound

    PART B- Slides 8-11

    You will also get a chance to read a hook, but try to use an alternative strategy to write second hook for the same story summary.  Here is a Checklist of Project Requirements for your Slideshow.


    Complete this wrap-up activity where you reflect on your learning. 

    Do you feel you have more tools in your writer’s toolbox to write a “better beginning” the next time you are asked to write a narrative piece? Explain your response.