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My experience has been lack of context and mystery most quickly grab my attention. I believe this has to do with the need of the human mind to create order and solve problems. Perhaps examples will illustrate this. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Cold April day, northern hemisphere... clocks striking... ...


8

Here, use this: "Call me Ishmael." Or: "Lolita. Light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul." I think one very important quality that a good opening sentence has to have is that it is musical (not sing-songy). If you don't know what I mean, then you should forget my comment. To me, the best writers are aware of the rhythm and flow of their ...


8

First lines, like character names, are hard. Don't let them keep you from writing your story. In fact you may find that you write a better first line by writing your story first. Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence opens with a scene that is in many ways a microcosm of the whole novel. It begins: On a January evening of the early seventies Christine ...


8

A good opening line gets the reader hooked and eager to read the next line. Great opening lines do that while giving the reader important information not just about the opening scene, but the entire story. Aside from the title, this is your first chance to tell your reader what your story is going to be. So you have to play fair. You can have a fantastic, ...


7

Unexpected twists can work in plot driven novels where the readers are expecting to move quickly - but without a lot of mental effort or interest in the characters - through a story. Your example author Dan Brown writes pretty much the same characters in every novel. He also spins absolutely fascinating mysteries that people must know the end of. Plot ...


6

One thing is just to jump right into the action, e.g. "Babjack pulled to the curb and cut the engine." The master of this form was "Richard Stark" (Donald Westlake), whose novels always started with lines like "When the phone rang Parker was in the garage, killing a man." I think the emphasis on first lines is a little exaggerated. Most readers will read ...


4

I find the best opening lines to involve either very strong imagery (as your example above,) or some sense of anticipation - something important is about to happen, or perhaps already has happened and we're dumped immediately into the after-effects.


1

I've noticed that short chapters keep me moving along, even if I'm only somewhat interested in the story. Sometimes it's enough to keep me there until something really hooks me. Probably not useful in all genres or writing styles, but a suggestion. Un Lun Dun by China Meiville is one example. Possibly The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barberry, too, ...


1

Don't tell the readers too much. Have them wanting to learn more. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a great example of this. The story switches with each chapter from following the girl, Lisbeth, and the other main character. Lisbeth is an incredibly interesting character, and you want the pages following her to keep going. This gets you through reading the ...


1

The first sentence doesn't need to make the reader want to read the rest of the book. -- just the second sentence. And so on. For example, the opening line of The Hobbit: "In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit." The hobbit is thus introduced right away, but in a slightly deceiving way. Because in the next sentence Tolkien goes on to tell you ...


1

First of all, stop using the word "so" at the beginning of your sentences. The current fad of starting every conversation with "so" is pointless and practically idiotic, and letting it slip into written English is nonsensical. And please don't point out that there are reasons to begin sentences with "so." Of course there are. If you have a legitimate reason, ...



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