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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... ...


11

The opening sentence is bad for a number of reasons. First, aren't all nights dark? Why say that? But it is not so bad that a good writer couldn't have recovered from it and gone on to write a good book. This author did not, however. His works are regarded by most critics as terrible. Pretty much no one but grad students in English reads a novel like Paul ...


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

Your title, first sentence, paragraph, page, and chapter are your hooks to catch the reader. Make sure they are baited well. So, if you start with internal monologue, it had better be interesting, not just bland, random thoughts about how it's high up on the wherever. I realize that was just an example, but compare: Bad: "It's so high up here," thought ...


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, ...


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 ...


6

It's an unsubtle cheat. (That doesn't necessarily mean it's not good. Bear with me.) The author wants to get across that Really Important Things are Happening. He wants to hook you with the beginning of his book. How does he manage to impart the tremendous significance the reader should be seeing right from the start? Answer: by giving a dramatic, ...


6

There's no reason why it couldn't work, as long as you quickly make clear that it's internal dialogue. If it's a first-person narrative, the entire story is "internal dialogue," in a sense. The main benefit is to give the reader immediate access to the character's inner life, which may help us identify with him/her/it/them. The only real con I could see ...


4

Here is a mishmash of ideas... A common way to open is to state your conclusion as concisely and directly as you can. You don't always need exciting. Consider intriguing or surprising. Maybe controversial. What do you want the reader to feel right from the start? It isn't always excitement, but it's always some feeling. Curiosity. Outrage. Wonder. Humor. ...


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.


2

One problem is that the sentence is heavy-handed and melodramatic. The dark is a metaphor. The storm is a metaphor. Yeah, yeah, we get it. We're in for a dark and stormy story. Madeleine L'Engle begins A Wrinke in Time with It was a dark and stormy night. I haven't read it, but I suspect she uses the sentence playfully, deliberately tapping into its long ...


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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