Wednesday, June 16, 2010

First Sentences

I have been struggling with the first few sentences of my manuscript. I have written the entire manuscript and I am in the editing and rewriting process. But, I have learned that in order to capture a reader's attention you have to hook them in the first few sentences. There is a delicate balance between hooking them to get them to continue reading and barraging them with so much information the reader is confused and doesn't want to continue – or boring them with not enough information.
Here a few examples of great opening lines – see if you can guess the book:
"Where's Papa going with that ax?"

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.

Call me Ishmael

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

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth

In the town, there were two mutes and they were always together.
I could go on and on – but I think you get the idea of how important the first line of a novel is. So it may be true that you can't judge a book by its cover – can you judge it by its first sentence?
So I struggle with my first sentence – even though my manuscript is practically finished – the first sentence sets the tone and the voice – it hooks the reader to want to keep reading!

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