We all know first impressions count, from the title to the very first sentence. So if you lose the reader at this point, chances are they won’t be coming back again. Whoever said ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ probably was not in the writing industry. The first line needs to be brilliant, presenting something curious, shocking or entertaining, and it must be an example of your best writing.
Fear not, writing buddies; you’re not alone in editing that all important line for the trillionth time. It’s something most of us struggle with at some point.
Here are some examples of excellent first lines, they hook your attention long enough for you to think, ‘oh, what’s happening here?’ Lets’ take a look, perhaps you’ll recognise a few.
“It took seven years to get the letter right.”
“Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she’d been told that she would kill her true love.”
“The screw through Cinder’s ankle had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle.”
“I remember lying in the snow, a small red spot of warm going cold, surrounded by wolves.”
“I hate having to dress like a man.”
“After a year of slavery in the Salt Mines of Endovier, Celaena Sardothien was accustomed to being escorted everywhere in shackles and at sword-point.”
So what are the magic ingredients for crafting a great line?
They encourage a sense of curiosity or shock: Why does she have to dress like a man? Why does she have a rusted screw in her ankle? What was so important that it took seven years to write?
They present the reader with conflict: Will she escape slavery? Why does she have to kill her first love and will she get away with it? Will the wolves kill her?
By combining curiosity and conflict you drop the reader straight into the action, where things are about to start happening, getting to the heart of the story as soon as possible.
While it’s tempting to lure the reader in with beautiful descriptions and lengthy prose, you run the risk of losing the reader’s interest before they’ve had a chance to meet your character.
The same might be said for opening with dialogue; the reader hasn’t had a chance to become orientated with the story, let alone become invested in your character. Why should they care what they’re talking about?
Alternatively, opening with inner dialogue gives a deeper perspective, potentially allowing the reader to become accustomed to your MC through their thoughts and actions.
Don’t forget to check out your favourite novel and see if any of their first lines grab your attention.
Thanks for stopping by.
Until next time, Much Love.
© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.