No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader― Robert Frost
DOES THE FIRST LINE OF YOUR STORY POP?
Do you want the opening line of your novel to stimulate the reader to continue? If the first sentence of your novel is boring, then the reader will put the book down, never to return.
So, put away the proverb. Erase it from your mind, because First Impressions do count, when writing.
There are many great works of literature that offer a peek into the story with their opening sentence. One you will surely know is a classic novel, written in 1859, that is still being read and discussed by university lecturers: A TALE OF TWO CITIES by Charles Dickens.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
To this day, it is quoted over and over; remembered by all because it told you just enough to peak your curiosity. Your first sentence should suggest something about your story, be it character driven or driven by the plot?
If it is character driven, a wonderful example is LORD JIM, By Joseph Conrad, which was published as a serial between 1899 and 1900.
“He was an inch, perhaps two, under six feet, powerfully built, and he advanced straight at you with a slight stoop of the shoulders, head forward, and a fixed from-under stare which made you think of a charging bull.”
The first sentence could be an introduction to the plot of the book like 1984, written by George Orwell, and published in 1949:
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
Many novelists begin their story without putting down the first sentence. Knowing how important that first sentence is causes many to think and re-think before taking action. Sometimes, getting into the story, leaning more about your characters or where the plot is taking you, may alleviate any discomfort and allow you to return to the beginning, to put that first sentence down.
Happy Writing, Paula