I thought we might talk a little about the art of writing in the next few weeks. I work with the teen writers at the local library, and we’ve worked hard on first lines for a story so it will grab the attention of the reader. We’ve brainstormed and researched and here are some things we’ve come up with.
Your first line should grab the readers’ interest and also tell the story. You should know everything about the story from the first line. Or at least the first paragraph – or first page. Readers lose interest quickly and you want to keep them as long as possible. Grab a book off the shelf and see how the writer started it. Did it grab your attention?
Some good examples of masters at the craft are these:
House of Night – P. C. Cast – “Just when I thought my day couldn’t get any worse I saw the dead guy standing next to my locker.”
The Dark Tower Series – Stephen King – “The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.”
Percy Jackson – Rick Riordan – “Look I didn’t want to be a half-blood.”
Twilight – Stephanie Meyer – “I’d never given much thought to how I would die.”
American Gods – Neil Gaiman – “Shadow had done three years in prison.”
I don’t always have a great first line. But by the end of my novel or short story I always go back and rewrite the first line or maybe write a new one. It is important to your reader. Then once you tell your story, use that visual at the end to pull the story together. You have told the story, now bring it full circle. This rule should apply to all fiction.
There are no expert writers, only students of the craft. There is always something new to learn to make you a better writer.
Tell me what you’re writing and how it begins.