Monthly Archives: June 2011

Gimme Your First Impression

By first impression, I’m talking about the first sentence in whatever you’re currently working on. Whether it be a book you’re trying to get published, a short story or poem you’re working on for a contest, or a piece you’re currently writing, I’d like to see it.

That first sentence is major. Everyone will tell you that the first paragraph in a story is crucial if you want to keep a reader’s attention. That first sentence, then, is life or death. Literally. Ok, so maybe not literally, but still! If you opened a book and the first like was “I am 39 and I live in Nowhere, Arizona,” would you be hooked? It’s not so much a matter of whether it’s interesting or not. Are you hooked?

Here’s some examples from famous books.

“The boy with fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way toward the lagoon.” – Lord of the Flies

“When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.” – To Kill a Mockingbird

“In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains.” – A Farewell to Arms

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” – Pride and Prejudice

“I’d never given much thought to how I would die–though I’d had reason enough in the last few months–but even i I had, I would not have imagined it like this.” – Twilight

“‘I see…’ said the vampire thoughtfully, and slowly he walked across the room towards the window.” – Interview with a Vampire

“‘We should start back,’ Gared urged as the woods began to grow dark around them.” – A Game of Thrones

“In the land of Ingary, where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of three.” – Howl’s Moving Castle

How many of those sentences hooked you? How many left you wanting to read more, or made you think? My particular favorites are the Pride and Prejudice and the Howl’s Moving Castle openers. Here’s today’s challenge for y’all: show me your first sentence. Does it catch the imagination, pull the reader in, leave you thinking?

Here’s my opening line from Calypso:

“The cars scuttled by, leaving the smell of ozone in their wake.”