Good Beginnings

Good beginnings happen in Nature, the act of writing, and in personal journeys…

The winter snows have melted and saturated the earth. Out of mud season in the mountains comes something fresh and new. Look! There it is, finally, a bright lithe leaf uncurling its green self into the world!

I’ve been waiting for the leaves to pop from the branches on my aspen trees all season. It’s been a process like watching water start to boil, but alas Nature is now abundantly bubbling up with new sprouts and new blossoms arrayed in a vernal cloak of color.

Even the birds emanate vitality as they carefully arrange twigs into a concentric cup and then tamp down the inner chamber with their clawed feet, squatting and shimmying their bodies into the prized circle of the finished nursery.

There’s certainly dependability in Nature’s seasonal renewals. We come to anticipate it every spring. There’s this sense of knowing things will begin again.

In a word, hope.

I started thinking about stories, poems, memoirs, and other literary forms and what makes a good beginning. I wondered if writers can learn something from the natural world when crafting their opening lines and paragraphs.

At writing conferences and workshops I’ve attended, agents and editors continually emphasize the importance of a good beginning. The opening lines are crucial to elicit the reader’s desire to simply turn the first page. And the first five to ten pages (sometimes three pages) of a book will either make or break the journey to continue reading. That’s a lot of pressure for the one wielding the pen!

“But when the first page successfully blows an editor away, it can keep them invested throughout the project and make them even more excited to fight for you and your book.”

—Phil Stamper-Halpin, Manager of Author Platforms, Penguin Random House


“Fair or not, the opening lines of poems carry the weight of the world on their shoulders.”
—Robert Lee Brewer, Senior Content Editor, Writer’s Digest

So for all the writers out there, why not take that old manuscript out of the drawer and dust it off. Take a peek at those opening lines and discern whether or not a wonderful bit of intrigue kicks in, your heart palpitates a tad faster, and something sparks inside your bones.

Be it Nature, the writing process, or simply one’s daily journey in this world, everyone can benefit from a fresh start. Because it’s possible to bring a good beginning out of an old situation. Because even the weary and discouraged can begin anew. Because the natural world demonstrates again and again that renewal and good beginnings are vibrant realities.

New growth from a fallen redwood tree

But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
—Isaiah 11:1

Remembering those souls who died serving our country in the armed forces.
Thanks for stopping by.