What makes a great opening sentence for a novel or short story? During the year ended 2011, I read many treatises, primarily on writing fiction. Many of them cover the same information in slightly different ways. Most talk about the hook at the beginning. I think I understand the concept of the hook. What still eludes me is the selection of the right words to make a great beginning. Since I want to write great beginnings, not just good beginnings, I have been thinking a lot about what makes a great beginning.
Poets often write vivid, emotional and sensual openings. They, however, can use incomplete sentences, irregular line breaks and other conventions that are not considered appropriate or even acceptable for a novel or short story.
I don’t know how to go about selecting the perfect prose that makes my opening lines “great”. I suspect there should be a certain sense of rhythm. I also imagine that the choice of words is critical, since hard or soft words and sounds can change the mood of the writing. And of course I still need for the opening to “hook” the reader.
Since I am a new to writing fiction, and I don’t have the answer, I am just going to practice—after all, that is why I started this blog.
I strive to improve my writing and believe that I am ready for sincere constructive critique. Please feel free to add your suggestions, ideas and constructive comments to the question above or to the examples below.
My first attempts at writing opening lines–
1. It was a freak accident that had sent me spiraling downhill; leaving only a sliver of my ski visible above the snow. (Three word Wednesday)
2. She was lonesome; but not lonesome enough to go home with the mysterious stranger.
3. She opened her eyes. The room appeared to be covered in texture. She knew her eyesight was gone.
4. She was sullen because he was brutal. Trust was gone.
5. (Or change the punctuation) She was sullen. He was brutal; trust was gone.
6. Tammy could tolerate others’ shortcomings, unless they expected her to follow suit.
7. The smell of warm cinnamon cookies tickled his nose. He would do whatever it took to get one.
8. They were too early, too tiny, and although I knew I would never take them home with me, I prayed that they would survive.
9. He was old, tired and miserable, but I knew I would miss him.
10. He’d been my friend, my lover, my confidant; I could not go on without him.
11. Clean, white, snow, covered in bright red blood was not the way I planned to start this day.
12. As I bathed on the shore, the summer sun, the little cabins and the sound of children at play reminded me of the childhood I never had.