Do you have trouble with those first lines?

The opening line, the opening paragraph, the opening chapter.



That’s what I struggle with, the opening. Sometimes I write and rewrite it so many times it goes from bad to worse. But I don’t give up.

I’m striving for opening words that will entice and seduce the reader. In other words, the opening must “kick ass” to keep the reader’s attention.

mule-28881_640Kick who? What?

How many times have you started a conversation with a friend that went something like, “Wait until you hear this,” or “You aren’t going to believe what so-in-so did,” or maybe “Oh my God, listen to what just happened.”

Your friend probably held their breath as they waited for the rest of the salacious story. 

That’s the response I want when I start a story. 

So, what’s the best way to start your story?

Only you can answer that question, but whatever you decide, remember it’s an invitation to the reader.

But we need to promise to tell the kind of lies the reader wants to hear and then make good on that promise.

The opening lets the reader willingly suspend their disbelief for a little while and step into the surreal.

Here are some ways to hook your reader with a killer first line.

  • Begin with something unexpected. (The suggestions here are endless.)
  • Start with action that catapults the story. (Everyone loves a good car chase, death scene or explosion.)
  • Use a simile or metaphor. (You could get real spooky with this one.)

Want more? Head over and read this post By Laura Drake

Nail That First Line! 

Still not enough?

Then watch this!

What do you look for in a first line?

Do you have a special technique for beginning a story?

Do share?

You can find me on Twitter @jeancogdell, Facebook at jean.cogdell and, stop by and say hey! Please remember to with a click and share this post with your Twitter peeps and Facebook fans.


13 thoughts on “Do you have trouble with those first lines?

  1. I had a friend who was once a very successful editor at Warner Books. She said writers would be shocked to find out how many such editors read only the first paragraph of manuscript submissions. They had tons of manuscripts piled on their desks and the was never going to be enough time to read the whole thing. So unless the first paragraph was a grabber, the manuscript was discarded. This post is spot on; the opening may be the most important part in hooking a reader to choose your work to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The opening line is SO Important. When I’m considering a book to buy, I read the opening line to decide. In the creative writing classes I teach, over and over again I give fun writing exercises with a great scenario – my students’ task is to being the scenario with a great opening line. The more we practice it, the better we get at WOWING the reader from the very beginning.

    Liked by 1 person

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