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 Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, 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?