That First Sentence: It Matters!

imagesYou want to write a novel, and you have a great idea, but you’re not sure how to start. Everybody knows that first line, that first sentence, is extremely important. It has to be right.

If you’re stuck because of the pressure of crafting the perfect opening line, you’re not alone. And neither is your angst misplaced.

I was reading the blog of one of my favorite authors, Jerry Jenkins, this morning when I ran across this post. I have read it before, but sometimes I think we all just need a refresher. If you’re like me, you have so much information being thrown at you, you can’t possibly retain it all.

Most great opening lines fall into one of four categories.

  • Surprising

Fiction: “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”-                George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-four

Nonfiction: “By the time Eustace Conway was seven years old, he could throw a knife       accurately enough to nail a chipmunk to a tree.”-Elizabeth Gilbert, The Last American       Man

  • Dramatic Statement

Fiction: “They shoot the white girl first.” – Toni Morrison, Paradise

Nonfiction: “I was five years old the first time I ever set foot in prison.” – Jimmy                  Santiago Baca, A Place to Stand

  • Philosophical

Fiction: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own              way.” – Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Nonfiction: “It’s not about you.” – Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life

  • Poetic

Fiction: “When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer            with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of      Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon. -James              Crumley, The Last Good Kiss

Nonfiction: “The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western                Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call ‘out there.'” -Truman Capote, In Cold        Blood.

This link will take you to some more great opening lines, and one of Jerry Jenkins’s blogs. Here’s a list of famous openers.

Hope this helped!

Jan R

That First Sentence: It Matters!