How to Write a Great First Line

The first line of a story has a major job—to catch the attention of the reader. The right reader. As a writer it is, arguably, the most important line we write. So how do we write a great first line? The Job of the First Line If the job of the first line of a story is to catch a reader’s attention, then all it has to do is shock or be surprising, right? Well, that may work for some stories and some readers. But it’s not the only way, and it’s not necessarily the right way for the story you write today. The most important job of the first line is to hook the reader, but it’s not the only job of the first line. The best first lines also introduce a writing style, a mood, a theme, and hints at conflict to come. Now, not all of us can write the perfect first line. But we can learn techniques that will give us a great first line. No One Right Way I’ve said it repeatedly. Every writer must find what works for them. The biggest shocker is that one way won’t work for every story written by the […]

Do You Want to Read More?

First Line Friday is a series of blog articles posted on the first Friday of every month. The first line of a story, we’re told, must hook the reader. Implied is that the reader will not buy the book if the first line isn’t great. These entries are from Amazon, my personal library, or other online booksellers. Do these first lines hook you? Do you want to read more? John Allerton sucked in another painful breath and struggled not to cough it out. Tom Abrahams, Unprepared (The Scourge Book 1) Harvey Watson didn’t want to admit it, but he was lost. Ryan Casey, Outbreak: A Post Apocalyptic Survival Thriller  I had my recurring dream last night. Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Sower Alex Hawk looked from one corner of his basement to the other. Shawn Inmon, A Door Into Time: An Alex Hawk Time Travel Adventure Let’s start with the end of the world, why don’t we? N.K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth Book 1) It feels like we’re running away… S. M. Anderson, A Bright Shore (The Eden Chronicles Book 1) I sometimes wonder what was disappeared first—among all the things that have vanished from the island. […]