Writing a Great Beginning (Part 2) First Sentences

If you ask me, the first sentence of your story is the absolute most important. This determines whether a publisher or reader stays with you, or not. Instead of going on lengthy explanations again, I’ll do some numbered points like yesterday. So, here are some numbers to remember when writing your first sentence:

#1: HOOK THE READER
Be exciting or interesting, but also keep it short. No lengthy explanations in the first chapter. Here are some examples:

It was a pleasure to burn. -Ray Bradbury, Farenheight 451

Mother died today. -Albert Camus, The Stranger

Of course, the first sentence can be a little longer:

Behind every man alive now stand thirty ghosts, for that it the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living. -Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odessy

And, in case you want some examples from someone who isn’t super famous. Here are some beginnings from an ordinary aspiring writer, me:

“There was no good reason to leave Costa Rica.”

“Nobody really knew Christopher.”

“The lavender-painted fingernails Emily had wrapped around the trigger reminded me of the balloons from recruitment.”

“Sometimes I look through this barrier holding me in and wonder if there is more to life.”

#2: DON’T BE BORING
As you can see from the examples above, they are far from boring. Stay away from things like wheather, alarm clocks, and all around boring things. HOWEVER, you can include weather if you’ve got something really great after it.

Ex. I went insane on a sunny afternoon in March.

You can also include weekdays/times of day. (But only if they are important to the plot). Ex. On a Sunday morning, I poured blood in my coffee instead of milk.

#3 DON’T START BY INTRODUCING YOUR CHARACTER
I’ve read a number of stories that start by “Let me introduce myself.” Or “My name is Emily Thomas.”

Try to stay away from introduction with a name or the “introducing” thing. But it CAN work if you have something good after it:
Ex: My name is Emily Thomas, ruler of the sirens.

Names could also work as a second sentence: “Everyone knows my name. I’m Emily Thomas, or the Scranton Strangler. The accused Scranton Strangler, that is.”

Tomorrow we work on descriptions. Write on, everyone!

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