First paragraphs as writing prompts

Fault

 

Continuing on with our theme of brainstorming warm up activities to use with students that are quick, fun, easy and engaging for Term One, we are reminded of an oldie but a goodie. Using first paragraphs or first sentences from novels or picture books can be a great way to get class discussion flowing, have your class share their prediction skills, or as writing prompts for their own creative writing. This exercise can also have the added bonus of enticing students to read a book they might not have picked up before.

You can also use this as a fun game. Line up the books face out and read the first paragraphs of each book aloud. Then ask students to match what they have heard to the book covers before them. This is an engaging exercise to introduce students to new books in the classroom or library. It also leads to interesting discussions about cover and title choices. Do they match with what the first paragraph has led us to believe the book is about?

The paragraphs we are sharing with you today are from young adult novels, but you can easily adapt this exercise for any and all books, news articles or even advertising copy lines.

“My name is Elizabeth but no one has ever called me that. My father took one look at me when I was born and must have thought I had the face of someone dignified and sad like an old-fashioned queen or a dead person, but what I turned out like is plain, not much more to notice. More Daisy than Elizabeth from the word go.” Meg Rosoff – How I Live Now

When Campbell’s father died, he left her $1262.56 – as much as he’d been able to sock away during his twenty year gig as a fire dancer for the “Spirit of Aloha” show at Disney’s Polynesian Hotel. Coincidentally, that was exactly how much her fat uncle Gus was asking for his 1998 Volkswagen Beetle in Vapor, the only colour worth having if you wanted to have a VW Beetle. Cam had been coveting it since she was six, and it was worth every penny. It blended into the mist like an invisible car, and when she drove it, she felt invisible, invincible, and alone.” Wendy Wunder – The Probability of Miracles

“Daddy said “Let Mom go first”. Mom wanted me to go first. I think it was because she was afraid that after they were contained and frozen, Id walk away, return to life rather than consign myself to that cold, clear box. But Daddy insisted. “Amy needs to see what its like. You go first, let her watch. Then she can go and I’ll be with her. I’ll go last.” “You go first.” Mom said. “I’ll go last.” Beth Revis – Across the Universe

“Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite abit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.” John Green – The Fault in Our Stars

 

 

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2 Responses to First paragraphs as writing prompts

  1. Laura Gordon says:

    Another good one that is in line with this, is the idea of Before Before and After After. You can look at the beginnings and endings of books and ask students to consider what happened Before, (a minute, a day, a year, whatever you like) and the same for After. Then you can ask them to think about Before Before and then After After. Offers some nice creative writing starters.

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