Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Intriguing Story Openings

Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books for teens in lots of weird genres like, fantasy (Blood of Kings trilogy), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). Find Jill on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or on her author website.

We've talked about story openings before, but lately I've been thinking about what kinds of things make the first line of a story intriguing. In our world of short attention spans, it's more important than ever to hook your reader from the first line.

But how do you do that?

You can hook your reader by . . . 
-Grabbing the reader's emotions. This could be done by making them smile, laugh, by scaring or shocking them. Any emotion can be used.
-Raising the reader's curiosity. You can do this by writing something suspenseful, by piquing the reader's imagination, by making a promise to reveal something, by letting your character say something intriguing, or by planting questions that the reader will want answers to. Anything that draws the reader in and makes them wonder what's going to happen next.

Make sure to:
-Write something simple and instantly understandable.
-Include lots of white space on that first page.
-Pay close attention to word choice. Make every one count!
-Test out your opening line on a few readers to see what they think.




Try NOT to:
-Use any backstory. At all.
-Give any information dumps. At all.
-Show your character going about his regular day. (I did this in By Darkness Hid, and I've heard numerous times that it took people a while to get into the action of my story.)
-Overdo the description. If you need some in your opening, fine. Just don't let it take over.
-Have too much action before the reader comes to care for your hero and what he's fighting for.

Keep in mind, there have been plenty of books out there that begin with things listed in the "to avoid" section above. As with every writing rule, sift it and do what is best for your story. Just make sure that you've chosen the absolute best way to start. This is a place that deserves extra attention in your rewrites. Put in the time necessary to get it right.

Do you struggle with story openings? Care to share your first sentence below?

159 comments:

  1. My current WIP kinda starts out a little boring (not an ordinary day or anything, but not anything extraordinary either) but it very quickly gets into the action. For a fantasy WIP that i'm attempting to plot, I have no idea yet. :p For my (first draft) finished WIP:

    I guess I am what you would call an introvert. I'd rather be at home than out socializing with... people. My friends are in books, or; they are books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. INTROVERTS UNITE! Separately, in your own homes. X) hehe, I like it!

      Delete
    2. I'm an introvert too. I can pretend otherwise, and I do when I go speaking. But I always have to recover when I get home again.

      Delete
  2. My first line-- 'Kriana glanced up at the sound of boots crunching on pebbles, flicking her damp braid off her shoulder.'

    A short conversation follows, then the inciting incident of the book comes a page later. I did this to try to help the reader like the MC before the trouble began. --Savannah

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This line raises so many questions: Who is Kriana? Who's approaching? Why is she damp?
      Also, I really love the "boots crunching on pebbles" bit of description, it really gives you a mental picture, and a mental audio! :D

      Delete
  3. I closed my eyes for a second to take a breath, regripping my sword and dagger and pulled the fabric over my nose and mouth masking my identity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would definitely read that. There are two things I noticed though that you could maybe improve. You changed tense from regrippING to pullED. Also, you used the word 'and' three times. Maybe you could say 'pulling the fabric over half of my face to mask my identity,' or something like that in order to take out an 'and'
      -Anchor

      Delete
    2. OOH SNEAKY ASSASSINS OR THIEVES OR SOMETHING OR SOMEONE!! lol I like this, I would read more!! ;D

      Delete
  4. What an interesting post! I especially agree with the 'don't overdo description' one! Here's the first sentence(s) of my present project:

    My name is Rachel Linda, and I am a highly respected lady in our village, Avon-Lee. I have short grey hair, (done in a nice modern cut – makes me look nice and young, you know) and I’m as energetic as I was when I was five years old. Only, of course, with somewhat more weight. (But let’s not talk of weight as I am rather sensitive about the subject.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good job! I actually struggle with not describing things enough... I wouldn't have the courage to write this way either ;)

      Delete
    2. Haha, this is great! I like Rachel (*cough* but I'm not biased). X) DESCRIPTION IS HARD!! I think I'm getting a liiiiiiiiiiittle bit better, though. X) practice makes.....less bad! XD Haha good job! I wanna know more about Rachel and her village and why she's so highly respected!

      Delete
    3. Do I sense some Anne of Green Gables travesty, Naomi? ;) I'd be interested to know how it turns out! Keep me posted.

      Delete
    4. Yes, I am writing a modern Anne of Green Gables. :-)

      Delete
  5. Great post! One additional question, how important is the first line of the first chapter, if there is a prologue? Is the "first line" aspects than only applicable to the prologue or also to the very first "real" chapter, especially since I know that people sometimes tend to skip reading prologues.

    As for my first line, this is it: This was it. The moment every young man, who reached the age of twenty-five, waited for: getting assigned by the High Lady herself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This sounds like my kind of book! The sentence is great. My interest is piqued.

      Delete
    2. Thank you Alyssa, that is great encouragement to hear ^.^

      Delete
    3. I would read this in a heartbeat. *nodnod*

      Delete
    4. I want to meet our presumably 25-year old hero! WHO IS HE? WHAT WILL HAPPEN? WHO IS THE HIGH LADY? WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE ASSIGNED?? All important questions. XD

      Delete
    5. Technically the first line of the prologue is the first line of your book. But some might give you grace there. Still, I say make the first line of the prologue and chapter one great.

      Delete
  6. Great post Jill! Here's my first sentence(s) in my current WIP.

    Drin gazed out the window. From where he was sitting, only the tops of the masts from the great Protector ship as it sailed into Daine's harbor for the recruitment were visible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DRIN DRIN DRIN WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO YOU WHAT IS A PROTECTOR SHIP WHY IS IT CALLED DAINE'S HARBOR WHAT IS THE RECRUITMENT?? Also, even with that one sentence, I have a picture in my mind about the setting: I see Drin (for some reason, he's sitting at a desk piled high with books, with quill and parchment in front of him, sort of daydreaming), looking sideways out the window of his room in his house on the hill. Spread out in front of him are the shingled roofs, their tiles various shades of brown. And far out past the rooftops, he can see the ocean glistening in the early morning sun, but that sparkling view is partly blocked as a tall mast sails past, towering over the farthest rooftops.

      *cough* I have NO idea where Drin actually is, that's just what your individual sentence called to mind. XD

      Delete
  7. This is my first line: Maybe he wants me now.

    In this line she's talking about her dad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As...as in........sexually? WHAT A TERRIFYING THOUGHT!!!!!!!!! Or is it like, "maybe he'll love/accept me now, enough time has gone by for him to come to terms with the fact that he HAS A FREAKING DAUGHTER AND IT'S ME" type way? Definitely attention grabbing, either way!

      Delete
    2. Lol. The second one. The second one.

      Delete
    3. I'm glad you like it though!

      Delete
    4. *phew!* lol thank goodness. X) And yes, I do! :D

      Delete
  8. Five years ago if you’d have told me that I’d one day write a book I probably would avoid you for fear of catching your insanity, and yet here I am writing my autobiography.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wait...........is that the first line of your book, or is that you saying that to us in real life? *squints* LOL I'm easily confused. XD

      Delete
  9. My first sentence is, “I settle back in the chair and prepare to have my mind read."
    Also, I just borrowed your book Captives from a friend. I can't wait to get started!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooo, as in actual mind reading? O.O *interested muchly*

      Delete
    2. OOO! Either therapists or magic (or a magic therapist)! TOTALLY INTERESTING REGARDLESS, I MUST KNOW MORE! X)

      Delete
    3. This will take a little background to explain, so here goes:
      This is a dystopian novel, kind of like 1984 by George Orwell. In this society, called The Culture (although that name may have to change), there are three Parties. The White Party members are therapist types. The Green Party members are environmentalists. And the Orange Party members are animal rights advocates. Every teenager gets a brain scan, called a Final Test, on their sixteenth birthday (hence the mind reading bit) that tells them what Party they are suited for.
      It's all a lot more complicated and they've spent their whole childhood training for this and taking smaller tests, but I won't go into the intricate details. Sorry for the long comment. Thanks so much for your feedback!

      Delete
    4. Sounds cool, Alyssa! Enjoy Captives!

      Delete
    5. Well, it shows that you did a really good job with your first sentence, Alyssa, since as soon as I read it I thought: "This sounds dystopian!" =)

      Delete
  10. Great post! While reading though I kept thinking "Am I doing these things?" My first chapter gives intruductions, but I hoped not in a info dumping or boring way. It opens at a ball, not too exciting....
    Thanks for the tips!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Here's a few of my first lines:

    "The music floats through my dreams again." -- Chords That Bind
    "Everyone thinks homeschooling is weird, my big family is weird, and, most certainly, I’m weird. That’s only one group of people’s opinion, however, and definitely does not count as fact." (Two sentences, yes) -- Different
    "You’d probably never think rain would cause so many problems, but all that means is you’ve never been to Zemelietus. In my country, rain is everything--rain is life. At least, it was." (Again, two...) -- Living Rain
    "I am the hopeless one. I grew up rough around the edges and now the edges have taken over me." -- Lies We Believe (technically I haven't started this one, but I liked that line anyway.)
    “'You’ll never guess the dream I had last night.'” -- Deputy Pharaoh (A story I never got past the first page with...guess who it was about!)

    And a few random ones I came up with a while back that don't have a story yet...

    "The house shook violently, paused for a sickening moment of silence, then the walls split."
    "The door of the train was still open, swinging a bit, and everyone in the car was frozen--unable to process what had just occurred."
    "Katie stared at the bay, a swirling mass of water and thick black oil, unable to believe what she was about to do."

    I love first lines, in other words... xD They're tricky to get just right, but I do enjoy messing around with them. I'm thinking about a first line for my NaNo novel now...thanks for that. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the one for Lies We Believe. It really sets the tone of the story well.

      Delete
    2. I love that train one! XD and haha HOMESCHOOLING FOR THE WIN! X) awesome stuff!

      Delete
    3. Your two sentences for Lies We Believe is brilliant!

      Delete
    4. I love the "Lies We Believe", and "Different"! Homeschoolers are awesome :p

      Delete
    5. I like all of this immensely; especially "Living Rain" and "Lies We Believe." =)

      Delete
    6. Aww, thanks all of you! Alyssa, Anon, Emily, and Annie--maybe I'll have to write "Lies We Believe" sometime, then. :)

      About Different: Yeah, homeschooler book...it was actually my first "real" book and it was a book I wanted to read. I've never read any books with homeschoolers that weren't "freaks" or creepy enviromentalist people who didn't do any "normal" subjects, so I wrote one with real homeschoolers! It's actually done, which is nice. :)

      Delete
  12. This is great info! I'm bookmarking this post to come back to when I start editing (which is still a couple of months away). My first line is: My life had been very normal up to this point.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooh, what abnormalities have sprung up?!? I like it!

      Delete
  13. My first sentence of my first draft of my first finished story opens in a sort of daily life-ish thing: Shadow walked along the dusty bookshelves.

    I think it might catch people's attention, but I'm not quite sure. However, the next sentence: She marveled at the old books, but the day she took them off the shelf would be the day she died.
    Tell me what you think?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The day she took ONE off the shelf. Ignore that typo.

      Delete
    2. The name 'Shadow' is certainly intriguing, so when you combine it with the next sentence, I now want to read this book. (Especially considering all the lines from it I read during the word war ...)

      Delete
    3. I would read that book. X) SO MANY QUESTIONS! :D

      Delete
    4. What's inside the book? Why does it get her killed? You've successfully made me curious and interested in your story.

      Delete
    5. Hehe. It wouldn't get her at least almost killed in the way you think...

      Delete
  14. The first line of my 100-4-100:

    “It is a fact universally acknowledged that a short girl, in the procession of something above her head must be in want of some young man to get it down for her,” Clara stated, as she and her two best friends headed to the pool. “And no matter how far from the case it may be, if it just so happens that her mom has told her to get something that just so happens to be on a shelf above her head, and some guy just so happens to be walking by and sees her, he's going to offer his help."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. PRIDE AND PREJUDICEEEEE YUSSSSSS!! XD

      Delete
    2. Wow. Very unique and intriguing opening, Kendra!

      Delete
  15. Here's my first sentence: Hope never thought such a simple sound could cause such relief and anxiety at the same time.
    The sound that she hears is a ringtone for a text message from her best friend, who she hasn't heard from in a while. I would start with action, but the only action is right at and after the inciting incident, and I feel like I would need to explain what's going on and readers wouldn't have time to get to know and like my MC. Does anybody have any thoughts?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like it. I want want to know what the sound is (well you told me, but if you hadn't, I'd want to know), and I want to know why its so conflicting. :) sounds interesting to me so far!

      Delete
    2. I think it's great. Next you can show her looking at her phone, tense as to what it might say. That line and the following action builds up all the right kinds of questions. The "action" thing mentioned above is more for opening with a fist fight, or something, in which the reader doesn't know why the people are fighting and doesn't know who to root for.

      Delete
    3. Okay, thank s for your advice! :)

      Delete
  16. Great post! This blog is awesome. The opening sentence(s) of my story are:

    The assassin poised silently over the sleeping figure, dagger pointing downward as he tried to fight the accursed fear. Waiting. Listening. His heart threatened to thump its way out of his ribs, his chest loath to give in to the terror the Emperor had prepared so pleasurably for him. The sharp needles poked his face, but he tried to pay them no heed. Not again, not anymore. Behind him, the sound of crunch of twigs and gravel made him almost drop the dagger. His heart leapt into his mouth.
    You fool, Dorlin!

    The prologue:

    “Mama!” The baby’s cry could be heard distinctly over the roar of the flames. Heat boiled the wicker hut like water on a stove, the flames licking the wood mercilessly as the village burned helplessly in the fire.

    This story is called The Assassin's Mercy, and it's something I just came back to after a trifle less than a year. I'm going to add twists and change the plot considerably. Really excited to rewrite something I haven't considered in so long!

    Thanks again for the post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You've already pulled me in, your sentence(s) are intriguing.

      Delete
    2. Assassins and daggers and NEEDLES IN HIS FACE OHMAHGAWSH. I would read this! Not for the needles (euughh!), but for everything else. XD

      Delete
    3. I love assassin stories, it's interesting that he's afraid. You say the sharp needles, are they mentioned in the prologue making them THE sharp needles or is this the first time they are mentioned so they are just sharp needles?

      Delete
    4. Actually they are not mentioned in the prologue. I've not actually written the entire thing yet, but in this scene they are actually pine needles and are contextual to something the character (Dorlin) remembers from his past. Like I said, I only have the first paragraph of the prologue and I'm going to totally edit the chapter one, but this definitely isn't going to change.
      Thanks a lot for the amazing feedback guys! This blog rocks. :)

      Delete
    5. Oh, PINE needles, thank goodness. o.0 The first thing that sprung (sprang?) to my mind was some sort of Saw-like contraption on his head, hence the fear. XD I clearly watch too much tv. X)

      Delete
    6. A few more of my lines:
      Every world has its evils – The Bane of the Dragons (something I never wrote past the first nine chapters).
      The fire shone in his eyes. It made the flames flicker and jump and the shadows play a game of dance across the room. – Something I’m working on, I only have two pages so far, and no title.
      And a few more without a story-
      “It’s funny, isn’t it? The skulls. They grin like a half-wit sprite with a bottle for a brain, almost as if it’s the gods’ way of saying, ‘Hey, being dead isn’t that bad! At least you get to smile a lot!’”
      “Do you have it?” He shuddered. His breath was coming fast and scared, and he couldn’t help it. He glanced anxiously around the street.
      Being dead is a bore.
      They say Aurelian executions are supposed to be nerve-racking. An embodiment of death and horror in all its gory spectacle. Curses to the man who came up with them, and cheers to the man who came up with knives.

      Delete
  17. Most nights, I sleep like a log. Not that night, though. I couldn't sleep for worth a hoot. I was sitting straight up in bed, listening to the conversation on the other side of the curtain.

    (My first line(s)) I don't know if it would hook the reader or not. I hope so, cuz this book has my heart in it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. WHO'S NARRATING? WHO'S TALKING BEHIND THE CURTAIN? WHY IS THE NARRATOR SO INVESTED IN THEIR CONVERSATION THAT HE CAN'T SLEEP? WILL HE GET CAUGHT? WHAT HAPPENS IF HE DOES? See, these are things your readers (LIKE ME, RIGHT NOW) want to know. XD

      Delete
    2. I'm definitely curious! Exactly Rachel's questions there popped into my head...

      Delete
    3. I'm really intrigued by this one, though it's a tad bit wordy. I'd cut the third sentence and the though, and then change the "was sitting" to a simple "sat." It would raise the tension even higher, which is what you're clearly aiming for.

      Good luck with your story though!

      Delete
  18. I already love this blog! My first line is more like two, with the first one in italics:

    Soon you will suffer.

    My mind refuses to comprehend the words; someone put this here. In my book. Someone wants to hurt me.

    I think it delves in too early, but I'm still editing. Great, helpful post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm a fish, and you are fishing. You caught me, and have now reeled me in. I have already died of curiosity to see what the world looks like outside of the water.

      Delete
    2. OOOooo! Creepy! Is she being stalked? HUNTED?? WHO PUT THOSE WORDS THERE? WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE NARRATOR?? :O

      Delete
  19. My first sentences are:

    Sweat poured down Rolf’s face and back as his feet dug into the grass. His muscles strained and shook against the mighty pressure applied to them. Then the pressure was gone, and Rolf lurched forward, caught off balance. Something thick and heavy smacked against the back of his skull, and Rolf fell to the ground, bright pinpoints of light stabbing through his vision.

    I'm hoping it's not too vague an image, or too word-heavy. First impressions, anyone? Constructive criticism is welcome. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At first I thought some sort of beast, and then some force of power or maybe a sickness. Very powerful! I'm loving your word choices and I'm intrigued by what is going to happen to poor Rolf. :)

      Delete
    2. This just made me want the rest! I thought the same thing, as in it sounds like some sort of animal.

      Delete
    3. Wait, Rolf sounds like an animal, or the thing that hit him does? XD hehe thanks for your feedback! ^.^

      Delete
    4. sorry, whatever hit him does. haha it's really good

      Delete
    5. Intriguing! I'm definitely pulled in. This sounds like something I would read!

      Delete
  20. This is my first paragraph in my WIP prologue.

    Hello, dear reader. I don’t know why you’re here. I don’t know if you’re going to stay and read this all the way through. (If you don’t, no hard feelings. I’m not much of a reader myself.) And I definitely do not know if you’re going to like the story I’m telling.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting. It sounds like it foreshadows an amazing story.

      Delete
    2. Self-aware stories!! They always promise to be AWESOME!!! :D

      Delete
    3. I like it! I love to feel like the character is talking to me.

      Delete
  21. These are the first two lines of my 100/100 WIP. I don't normally enjoy working out my beginnings because it is so hard haha but I was really surprised with how easily these came together. The first chapter after, however, was a nightmare.

    "There were seven wooden markers in the cemetery over seven empty graves. My brother’s name was not on any one of them because my parents refused to let anyone forget."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So many questions in those lines. I want to read more. I'm sold.

      Delete
    2. Slap a sticker on me and put me in a bag, I am SOLD! XD

      Delete
    3. Wow. I'm definitely hooked. I mean...why seven graves? What's about the brother? Forget how by not having a name on them?! What happened to the brother? GAH!

      Delete
    4. This is awesome! I'm definitely hooked!

      Delete
    5. Wow! I'd definitely read this! I'm hooked.

      Delete
  22. This is so ironic. I just decided to rewrite my beginning ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *dramatic music* Foreshadowing!

      ....or something. X)

      Delete
  23. You guys, I love reading these! Thanks for sharing them!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I have multiple POV's so I got to experiment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too! Well, I devoted chapter 1 to one MC and chapter 2 to the other, so I gave them both an "intriguing story opening" for their intro chapter. ;)

      Delete
  25. This is my first two sentences after my introduction and prologue "I pushed my way into the hedge, and then used the branches to climb upwards until I stood on the wall. The sound of the guard’s footsteps came to me and I stood still until they began to fade. "...... my introduction is a bit boring but only 400 words long.... and my prologue starts "Aurelia and Farnear walked down the steps, arms linked. Aurelia leaned on her husband for support and sobbed softly as they walked into the garden."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OH NO WHAT HAPPENED TO AURELIA AND FARNEAR--wait:........Far...Near? AHAHAHA THAT IS THE BEST THING I HAVE EVER HEARD I LOVE HIM SO MUCH!!!! XD XD XD Don't worry, I am SO NOT mocking you; one time, I wrote a story about two competing gangs of thieves run by brothers, named Easton and Weston. Wanna guess which section of town each of them controlled? XD XD LOL

      ahem: as I was saying; Both of those story starts super intrigue me!!!! Color me intrigued! Also fuchsia.

      Delete
    2. Yep... I really really enjoy making up names.... I also have a guy called Roslen and one called Elon..... Farnear is a little like his name too. He is loving to hos wife, and close friends, but to most people including his adopted daughter the MC he is rather indifferent..... Though I have not worked not quite why yet.

      I like creating names that are pronounceable, simple but new, then no one will know someone with that name and have preconceived ideas about the character... and I don't either.

      Delete
  26. The book that I'm writing at the moment starts something like this:

    "Thanks for having her over, Mrs. Smythe. I hope she wasn't any trouble," I say because it is polite. I already know my sister wouldn't cause any problems.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmm interesting! How does she KNOW her sister won't? Is there something wrong with her, or special about her? OR is she insinuating she wouldn't CAUSE problems: she IS the problem? XD

      Delete
  27. I'm trying to figure out what to write for Nanowrimo. Either I can rewrite the story I tried last year which went nowhere since I didn't have the plot worked out, in which case my first sentence would be...
    For the prologue: Septimus often quartered with his father, the king of Rasteoupe, but this argument was more intense than ever before.
    For the first chapter: Rosalinda didn't dream like other princesses. When she dreamed it wasn't about being swept away by a prince, but about learning to protect herself so that she could leave the palace without the watchful presence of guards around her.
    Or I could write one of my other ideas starting with the sentence "I was the only person who knew the prince's secret. I understood why he kept it, because I shared the same secret." Any advice on what to do?
    -Anchor

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am already dying to know everything about Septimus and his fights with his father!!!! And WHAT DOES ROSALINDA DREAM ABOUT, THEN?!?!?!?!?! WELL?!?!?!?! lol so far I like the first idea, but the other one looks SO INTERESTING, TOO!! :D

      Delete
    2. Thanks. Rosalinda wants to leave the palace unguarded. Was it confusing how I worded it?
      -Anchor

      Delete
    3. OHHH!! lol, no, I just read it too fast (I do that a lot). I thought it said, "it wasn't about being swept away by a handsome prince, OR about learning to protect herself". XD I was like, Well what on earth DOES she dream about, then? XD lol but no no no!! It's good!!! :D

      Delete
    4. Cool. :)
      -Anchor

      Delete
  28. My first few sentences are: "Gilrain was young, thoughtless, and fair of countenance. Nothing ever seemed to matter enough in his estimation to make him grow up and take responsibility for his actions. To his way of thinking, life was a game and love was a jest. Immature and carefree, he thought of himself as invincible. He longed for the glory that, he thought he would claim for himself from war, and gave little consideration to the trials and hardships which would be the price it claimed, nor to the blood his nation would shed. " Yeah, it probably counts as an info dump, but I wrote the beginning for my WIP like a million times, and this is the one that worked best.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know, I liked it!! :D I have a feeling reality will smack Gilrain upside the head sometime soon? XD if he's planning to go to war for glory, that is. X) I didn't feel it was too info dumpy. :)

      Delete
    2. I'm glad you liked it! And yeah, he does get smacked upside the head by reality, more than once. :)

      Delete
    3. LOL maybe I'm a mean person, but seeing a really arrogant/clueless character get taken down a notch or two is just the best. XD

      Delete
  29. Great post! I struggle a lot with first lines. Here's the one from my current WIP:


    The note came through the window; nothing more than a folded-up scrap of yesterday’s newspaper.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooooo!!!! What does it say?!?! Who's it from? Who's it to? Why on newspaper? lol I MUST KNOW! XD

      Delete
    2. Oh, goodness. I like this one. O.O

      Delete
  30. This was a fantastic post! Just what I needed! I'm rubbish at beginning stories, but here are a few of my favorite first lines:

    "I can be furious with myself, sometimes, for not guessing who I was, who I was to become. But the, how could I? No one knew, until the moment I stepped into that roiling hurricane of death, and decided my own fate."

    "I rolled blearily out of bed and glanced at the calendar miserably. March 15, the Ides of March. It seemed rather appropriate that my dentist appointment landed on the anniversary of the day Julius Caesar was brutally stabbed to death."

    "My story begins with a song. The sort of song that tears its way out of one's throat, deep and wild and full of longing."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those are great! I SO love the dentist appointment one. It has so much voice and ahhhh I love it :)

      Delete
    2. Haha! Thank you very much, ladies!

      Delete
  31. I just read a book with THE LONGEST OPENING SENTENCE EVER. I had to read it twice to understand what she was saying. It's crazy what people get away with. My editor would never, in a million years, let me do that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What book was that, Ms. Dittemore? Just curious. :)

      Delete
  32. I cannot thank you enough. Story beginnings are something I 100% FLUNK. Take a look at this beginning from the novel I am currently writing. It is my second attempt at writing a novel. Thank God, it is faring much better than my first, not least because of my experience, but you wouldn't guess it from my opening:

    Wheatfields can hide many things.

    They can hide the root-tangled earth beneath their towering stalks, hide the stones and splinters that would, if trod upon, cause a good deal of pain to the treader. They can hide the little scamps who pass by at harvest-time for an easy meal, who in turn hide the yellow feathers pinched in their vests and jacket flaps. They can hide children guilty of some household crime, who are too afraid or shameless to face their own doings. And come every evening, they hide the sun as she gracefully descends upon her bed, respectfully shielding her from the world during her last waking moments.

    And you can probably guess by how choppy the opening runs that "wheatfields" was not the original word. Yes, this dunce had to change the opening after she remembered that corn does not grow in European mountains. The hopelessness!...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love your opening line and I'm sure the whole story is great. I would love to hear what the rest is about. Your first paragraph is so eloquent. Honestly, you should hear one of mine that I've rewritten twice and still sounds horrible:) It takes time, and you're a lot of times to hard on yourself, I've found.

      Delete
    2. That opening line is beautiful. I like how you write the beginning with such a lyrical fashion--both drawing the reader in and creating an aura of mystery.
      Well done. :)

      What genre is this, if I may know?

      Delete
    3. Sorry, this was meant as a reply to the post above..

      Delete
    4. The above post was a mistake, sorry.

      Delete
    5. I love this! I want to know who is looking at the wheatfield and thinking these things, and what that wheatfield is REALLY hiding, besides the aforementioned things. ;D You've successfully drawn me in! :D

      Delete
    6. Aww, thanks everyone! To answer Annie, this is actually a fantasy. It is set in a normal human village, but there is another race of Man--elves. Yes, I am that uncreative. I am thinking of changing "elves" to "wights" for originality's sake, but for now it's "elves." Humans are very racist towards elves.

      To answer Rachel, the person watching the sun set on the wheatfields is a weaver known as Aunt Mattie--and she finds today, hidden among the grain fronds, a little elf mother and son. Both are unconscious, and the mother is bleeding badly...

      And Hannah: "and you're a lot of times hard on yourself, I've found." Do you mean me in particular or "you" as in the general public? Just wondering. I'm glad you like my opening. It means a lot!

      Delete
  33. Okay, here's a couple of sentences from the beginning of my current book that I'm working on:

    “Don't forget about our date tonight. I'm picking you up at six.” Chris texted. I have to smile a little. How many times do I have to tell him that he doesn't have to use correct grammar and spelling in texts? I push the cart towards the exit of Wal-Mart and stop for a second to put my coat on, trying to think of some reply that doesn't require total spelling in all of the words. Some reply that would drive Mr. Grammar-Freak insane. Finally I reply, “ill b waiting 4 u”. I can imagine him raising his eyebrows at my message, completely bothered by the lack of punctuation and capitalization.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love it! <3 I know a couple people like that. It's soooo much fun to drive them crazy. Not exactly nice...but still a lot of fun. ;) I already like both characters!

      Delete
    2. Haha, awesome! You can already tell a bit about each character and their relationship with each other. X)

      Delete
  34. These are a few of my beginning sentences/paragraphs:

    I am Juliette Vendetta, and I am dying. (Beauty and the Beast re-telling for a Creative Writing Contest.)

    There is nothing like a graveyard for cheering up oneself. (Dystopian novel)

    I am an asassin by birth, and a traitor by choice. (Urban fantasy plot bunny.)

    Things are about the same as ever around Installation 7. Same temperature; same view on the screens; same passwords; same daily routine; same old, same old.

    I might die from boredom.

    Despite what Vincent--pardon me, Vince says--I'm not complaining. I'm stating the facts. (Science fiction novella.)

    Clara pushed the string of beads aside. They were made of glass coloured many different hues of green, stained and smoky with age. Supposedly they kept away evil spirits and death, but secretly Clara thought it a load of malarkey. (Planetary fantasy.)


    Thoughts, anyone? =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OHMYGOODNESS THOSE ARE ALL AMAZING!! I want to read every single one!! :D

      Delete
  35. Those are all amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Here's my working beginning sentences/paragraph.

    In the quiet, still hallway I pull the hood of my cloak up over my head and pause, listening for noise. Slowly, carefully, I pull the great oak door open and breathe a sigh of relief when it doesn't creak. I slip out into the darkness of the night.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh... mystery and suspense... Tell on!

      Delete
  37. My first line in Broken Clouds:

    "It will be normal, and, heaven knows, you need a bit of normalcy."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooh intriguing!


      Alexa S. Winters
      thessalexa.blogspot.com

      Delete
  38. “No! Go steal your own food!” The boy said, dodging to the side and trying to get past Nitri, who stood blocking the alley's exit.
    How was that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, I like this! I'd definitely read on.


      Alexa S. Winters
      thessalexa.blogspot.com

      Delete
  39. Great post! I'll definitely reread this when I go back to edit.
    My first sentence is "I peer at the pictures in the locket, clutching the necklace in my fingers, as if memorizing my parents' faces can bring them back."


    Alexa S. Winters
    thessalexa.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's awesome, Alexa! You've pulled me in. I'm already feeling sorry for the MC and her loss. I'd read this book!

      Delete
  40. Here is the first few words of Shadows of Ragnarok, a book I am currently working on.
    Would the shadows of his future ever leave him or the misdeeds of his father ever be forgotten?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds interesting! That "shadows of his future" part especially.


      Alexa S. Winters
      thessalexa.blogspot.com

      Delete
  41. ...Bekah here.

    "Even the wind seemed hushed on a night like tonight."

    What do you think?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooh. That sounds kinda scary. I'd read on!


      Alexa S. Winters
      thessalexa.blogspot.com

      Delete
  42. I think I rewrote my opening line some 20 times, my first 200 words some 15 times and the first page 10 times. I used to hate all of them, but after multiple rewriting, beta reading, submitting to lots of different people, I'm beginning to be happy with it.

    It's an endless work and sometimes people get the weirdest impresison from things you'd never imagine. Last year on the forum of NaNoWriMo, for example, you could post the first 100 words. A person asked me whether one of my MC was a dog O_O
    I'm very happy I posted those 100 words... even if I was shocked by the responce.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I've just discovered this blog and so, naturally, being the voracious reader and wannabe-writer that I am, I've been reading all of the archives. Which is a lot of fun! But I have a question. You wrote in this post that writers should try not to "show the character going about his regular day." This is precisely what I have done in my current WIP, because my story is about a girl who is thrown into another world, and I wanted to show what her life was like before this happens, to show why, throughout the story, she is fighting to get back home. Her new life in the other world is not one that you'd expect her to want to leave, and so I don't want people to be confused. Does that make sense? Do you think that I should change my opening scene? I definitely would appreciate your advice! :)

    ReplyDelete

Home