QUICK FIX: Where to begin
(Writers’ Forum, February 2008)
Ever picked up a story or novel, read the first sentence and been totally entranced? That’s the art of a good beginning, and it has been said that the first line is the most important in the book.
The first sentence should make the reader want to read the first paragraph. The first paragraph should entice the reader finish the first page, and so on. So, how do we achieve this incredible beginning, without which, the story or novel might never be read?
The first line should pose the questions of who, what, why, where and when? Sounds a lot to ask, but by beginning with either a piece of action, dialogue or surprising statement, these questions can be posed and the reader will want to discover more.
Have a look at the first lines of other stories or novels. Be critical. Did they capture your imagination and make you want to read on? If not, why not? How would you improve them?
Practice writing ten first lines. Make them as intriguing as possible. Don’t worry about what’s going to happen next – that will follow in its own good time
And if all else fails, you can always use the traditional, ‘Once upon a time…’ Don’t knock it… it’s a doorway to anywhere you wish to go.