New. It’s a word that is fresh and filled with hope. I have always liked new things. Who does get excited at the idea of new clothes, or a new book. (Even if its used, it’s still “new” to me.) I got new mugs a couple weeks ago and it thrilled me.

But even more than new things I love new opportunities, new adventures, and new friends. After my sophomore year of high school, I transferred to another high school to take advantage of its superior arts program. While I was sad to leave the friends and familiarity of my old school, I felt excited at the prospect of a clean slate. Whatever anyone thought of me at my old school, good or bad, was washed away, and I could almost reinvent myself. What did I want everyone to think if Liesl Robbins? And after a couple of years I went to college and I could reinvent myself yet again.

As a writer I love a new page, and I love beginnings. When you hold a new book in your hands, there are no preconceived notions about the words or what they might lead to, but I’m totally open to being thrust into a world, intrigued my mystery, and swept off my feet by a compelling voice or character. However, even though I am open and willing does not mean I am an easy audience.

But instead of spouting off what I think is in a good beginning, I’m just going to share a few of my favorites, (because while you might be able to condense what makes a beginning in a few short lines, in the end it’s all just magic to me.)

December 19, 1917
Arlington, Iowa

Dear Charlie,
Miss Simpson starts every day with a reminder to pray for you- and all the other boys who enlisted. Well, I say we should pray for the Kaiser-he’s going to need those prayers once he meets you!

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

“Gramps says that I am a country girl at heart, and that is true. I have lived most of my thirteen years in Bybanks, Kentucky, which is not much more than a caboodle of houses roosting in a green spot alongside the Ohio River. Just over a year ago, my father plucked me up like a week and took me and all our belongings (no, that is not true-he did not bring the chestnut tree, the willow, the maple, the hayloft, or the swimming hole, which all belonged to me) and we drove three hundred miles straight north and stopped in front of a house in Euclid, Ohio.”

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

Marley was Dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatsoever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scroog signed it. And Scrooge’s name was good upon ‘Change for anything he chose to put his hand to.
Old Marley was dead as a doornail.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

That fool of a fairy Lucinda did not intend to lay a curse on me. She meant to bestow a gift. When I cried inconsolably through my first hour of life, my tears were her inspiration. Shaking her head sympathetically at Mother, the fairy touched my nose. “My gift is obedience. Ella will always be obedient. Now stop crying, child.”
I stopped.

Ella Enchanted Gail Carson Levine


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