WRITING YOUR FIRST BOOK PART 2: THE FIRST SENTENCE
There’s no denying that the first sentence in a novel is the toughest and makes you want to pull your hair out. Personally, I’m not a big fan of them, and I bet the majority of you aren’t either.
But, unfortunately, the opening sentence is your ‘hook’. A narrative hook is a literary technique in the opening of a story that “hooks” the reader’s attention so that he or she will keep on reading.
If they don’t love it, then it’s more than likely that they will turn away. Thankfully, we have been provided with the best teachings out there; opening lines from some of the best authors in the world, which we are going to look at today.
Remember, this article is the second in a series of writing your first book, and everything here is to help you achieve your goal. What is in this series? I’ll remind you:
Part 1: Where to Begin.
Part 2: The First Sentence.
Part 3: The First Chapter.
Part 4: Tools and Tips to Continue.
I’ll also have an awesome checklist for you in part 4 where you can implement these teachings.
So, without further due, let’s get cracking!
SEDUCE THE READER:
Like I stated in the beginning of this article, your opening sentence is your ‘hook’. It’s meant to draw your reader in, or seduce them, without giving too much away of the story. Your opening sentence is going to convince your readers that they should read to the end and that it is worth their time.
How do you do this? Easy, my friends. There are 6 components I have pin pointed it down to throughout my studies:
• Conflict • Question • Emotional connection • Humour • Shock • Twist
Work with what you think will best suit your novel. It may take some time to get it right, so have a play around with the 6 different components. You don’t have to use all of them in an opening sentence, you can only use one if you like. It’ll be trial and error until you find something that feels right.
RELATED: How to Write a Plot Outline.
TYPES OF OPENING LINES:
Alrighty, my friends! We’ve worked out what the main 6 components of an opening sentence are, now it’s time to narrow them down and discover what types of opening lines you can use in your novel.
Three things to take into consideration when writing your opening sentence is whether or not it is going to serve a purpose to the page and to the story. What is it going to give the reader? Other considerations include the tone, or mood, that your readers will feel.
Moving on to the opening lines. There are 7 different types of opening lines you can use for your first sentence:
An action A character A Setting Dialogue A thought A statement World building
Like I stated previously, there is no way of knowing which opening line will best suit and benefit your novel until you have a play around with them. But, in the meantime, here are examples of each to get you going:
‘The stranger came early in February, one wintry day, through a biting wind and a driving snow, the last snowfall of the year, over the down, walking as it seemed from Bramblehurst railway station, and carrying a little black portmanteau in his thickly gloved hand.’
The Invisible Man – H.G. Wells
‘When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.’
To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
‘Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.’
The HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE to the GALAXY – Douglas Adams
RELATED: How to Write a Plot Outline
‘When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.’
‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.’
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
‘In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.’
The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
As I’ve said, it’s going to take some practice and trial and error. In this article, I’ve analysed and narrowed down the 6 components of an opening sentence, and the types of opening sentences you can start your novel with.
All finished. Let’s chat!
Congrats, fellow writers. Though you may not have mastered the first sentence yet, hopefully, this will help you get started!
Let me know if writing your novel part two: the first sentence, treated you well, and if you think there is anything missing that you would like to learn about.
Hit me up in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!