Today let’s have a look at a few opening sentences and then you can review your opening sentence to see if it has a question that grabs your readers and invites them in to your story. They will only find out what happens by reading more.
Does it ground time place and character?
Does it hint at trouble, challenge, surprise or conflict? This is sometimes taught as a hook.
What does this character want or need? A moment of unexpected change?
Does your first sentence have strong sensory detail? Senses, like sight, sound, taste, touch and smell will help the reader to picture your story vividly.
Does the character have a compelling voice that prompts the reader to be drawn in?
After reading the examples below see if you can improve your opening sentence. Maybe your story starts in a totally new place. How exciting!
“That Spot he hasn’t eaten his supper. Where can he be?”
Eric Hill – Where is Spot.
Why does this opening work well? What does it tell us? There are a few key pieces of information in a simple sentence. We meet our first character – Spot. We know he is missing and he has not eaten his supper.
“The boy with fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way toward the lagoon. Though he had taken off his school sweater and trailed it now from one hand, his grey shirt stuck to him and his hair was plastered to his forehead.”
William Golding – The Lord of the Flies
Where is Papa going with that axe?
EB White – Charlottes Web
Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.
JK Rowling – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
There are so many ways to start a story and so many wonderful examples. What is your favourite opening sentence?
“We come from the water.” she whispered. “We belong to it, Abel”
Is a classic tale about Abel Jackson and the magical world he is born into and that he must also save. With his mother they live a peaceful life in complete harmony with their slice of paradise on the Western Australian coast.
Abel fishes, dives for abalone and his favourite place is Robbers Cove. It is here that he meets a groper who he names Blueback.
Through each of the key characters we learn about love, nature, courage, persistence and each has wise advice that stays with the reader long after you reach the end of the story.
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The Walk Tall with Words creative writing program.