Such valuable insights you've shared here, Cindy!
I've recently started to pay close attention to how all sorts of stories begin.
I'm currently reading "On Writing Well" by William Zinsser, and he's pretty much emphasizing the importance of a strong start.
But he's saying the same about a strong finish - finishing when the reader expects it the least, leaving him in awe, reflecting on that final sentence. Without any recap that would make the reader feel dumb.
It's funny how one can write for the whole life and not progress much. Only when you start paying attention to the process you can truly take a leap.