But first

Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.

Don’t forget to click the purple button to see what everyone else has to say on this week’s subject. It’s at the end of my post.

“The first sentence has to have a solid punch.” —Steve Berry from “Twisty Business” Let’s talk about it.

I agree, it’s very important that you grab the reader’s attention right from the start. Even more so, now that a prospective purchaser has the look inside feature on the Amazon sales page. Your cover and blurb might catch the eye, look inside is a chance to check out the start of your story before committing to purchase.

You might have more than a sentence to get your point across, but not a lot, certainly by the end of page one you have to give a casual browser a reason to become a superfan. You need to get to the point, quickly.

There are several ways you can achieve this. You can ask a question, suggest that you’ve joined the narrative just as something interesting or unusual is about to happen, or describe a problem and then hint at a solution.

Here are three of my all-time favourites.

“In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit.”

“His name was Gaal Dornick and he was just a country boy who had never seen Trantor before.”

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

I’m sure they don’t need any introductions (The Hobbit, Foundation and Nineteen eighty-four, just in case). When I first read them, they instantly drew me in and made me want to read more.

Because, they tell you everything and nothing, answer a question but leave you with another. Say something strange that demands an explanation. They grab you and force you to read on, in case you’re left forever wondering what happened next.

Here are a small selection of first lines from my novels. While I would never claim that they’re in the same class, hopefully, they’re doing a similar job.

I could see the feet sticking out from under the auxiliary generator; they were small and very pink, the nails painted with rainbow glitter. (Myra)

“Vanessa, what are you trying to do? Slow down.” (Life and Other Dreams)

“Is that it?” The entrance was in partial darkness, the alleyway behind me dimly lit with flickering tubes. (Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café)

I was sitting by the pool, with a tall glass of gin and Athleberry (lots of ice), when I got the call. (The Hitman and the Thief)

When I wrote those first lines, I had no idea what sort of story would develop from them. In the end, I was pleased and surprised to see where they ended up.

Until next time.

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8 Responses

  1. Stevie Turner

    I suppose it depends on the genre. Those 3 favourites of yours wouldn’t draw me in at all, as I prefer not to read in that genre. It’s all subjective, lol.

    • Richard Dee

      I agree, the trick is getting your first line in front of the right audience. Achieving that is a whole other post.

  2. Daryl Devore

    I love it when I write an opening line and have no idea about the rest of the story. Glad to know I’m not the only one.

    • Richard Dee

      Exactly, it’s exciting to know that you’ll discover the end at the same time as a reader will.

  3. Darlene Foster

    Your own opening lines are very good, especially that first one. Here are a couple of my favourites:
    “Where’s Papa going with that axe?” said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.

    It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

    All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

    I don’t think I have mastered the first line yet but I kind of like this one from one of my Amanda Travels books.
    Amanda peered out the window, through the mist, down onto smoking chimneys and blackened roofs.

    • Richard Dee

      Thank you, I like your lines, particularly the first and last ones.

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