Opening Lines

My conference folder and my Klas Fahlén Letterpressed Notebook, which are both brimming with notes, handouts, and other info from SCBWI.

My conference folder and my Klas Fahlén Letterpressed Notebook, which are both brimming with notes, handouts, and other info from SCBWI.

There’s been so much written about introductions, first lines, hooks, etc. There are so many pieces of advice floating out in the world for ways to use the opening lines of a story to draw readers in from the very first sentence. Why? Because if you don’t hook your reader and involve them early on, then you’re apt to lose them.

One of the editor panels I attended at SCBWI last month was about openings, hooks, and grabbers. I took pages of handwritten notes with the suggestions the editors* gave during this session. I turned it into yet another list that can be used with students in writing workshop.

OPENING LINES COULD…

  • Give readers a sense of character, place, and what’s going on.
  • Provide readers with a sense of closeness.
  • Make an honest declaration to the reader.
  • Draw the reader in by using the 1st person.
  • Talk to the reader in the 2nd person.
  • Give a sense of who the character is and where they live.
  • Tell everything the character is meaning to tell (without meaning to tell).
  • Establish a sense of voice that involves the reader, invites them in, welcomes them into the story, and makes seem curious about that world.

*= The ideas mentioned above were from an editor panel comprised of Andrew Harwell, Wendy Loggia, and Amanda Maciel. It was moderated by agent Alexandra Penfold.

If you can’t get enough of first sentences then  click here to read a round-up of blog posts about them.  It’s a tremendous resources compiled by Anna Forrester, a fellow writer and educator, who I met at the SCBWI Gala.

Do you have a favorite opening line from a book? Please share by leaving a comment.