HOW TO WRITE AN OPENING LINE
Explosive beginnings are a necessity. The reader has to be drawn into your story right away – especially in today’s time. Whatever you present in the outset must reek of plot and hardship or something like it.
I edited a story a few days ago and the writer did something amazing in the beginning. His main character was being rushed to the ER after a car wreck. Doctors and nurses were everywhere, and she was slowly fading to her death.
Uh-mazing! My heart wasn’t sure if it needed to beat or what. It was such a strong introduction that I really had to take a momentary think-break just to clear my head. The next scene that he described was gorgeous in color and tranquility.
So let’s break this down a bit. What’s your opening line? Here’s where poets get their chance to shine in novel-writing. What’s that one line that draws the reader in?
Here are some sample openers:
1. “It is truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” – Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice
2. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” – Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities
3. “You better not never tell nobody but God.” Alice Walker – The Color Purple
These lines will really get you into the story. In your novel, what’s one line that you could think of that can jumpstart your work?
Let’s do some practicing. By the way, if you have any strong openers that you’ve used, please post them as comments and respond to each other’s posts! RICH has some good ones that he’s posted in the comments section.
Here are some on-the-whim examples.
1. How does a broken heart keep beating?
It doesn’t matter who says a line like that, but the reader is already thinking about it. There’s so much pain in that line. It makes you know that the narrator is crushed. She may still be in a relationship and feel this way. She may have had a recent break-up. It just doesn’t matter. The reader is hooked.
2. Some dad he was…walking out on his wife and two kids.
3. I’ve only shot a gun twice in my life, and both bullets went into the same man.
4. Sweat plunged down his face as the snarls closed in on him.
5. He didn’t remember Gracie’s eyes being so cold.
6. Hiding in her bedroom, she crammed the pillow over her head, hoping that the bad man would go away.
These are just a few that came to mind, but here’s my suggestion. Think of an emotion that you want to portray at the outset of your novel and shine a police-flashlight on it. Try to capture the fear, the pain, the loss, the loneliness, the joy, the excitement, or the even the calm. Just grab it and make sure that you broadcast it. It’s your second chance to snatch the reader’s attention: the first chance being your title.
Thanks for stopping by!