Writers Digest drops a bunch of tips for improving your story. You don’t have a lot of words to hook your reader, especially if they’re an overworked editor or slush-manager, so you need to hook them quickly:
[I]t’s unfortunate that opening sentences frequently receive short shrift in writing workshops. While drilling aspiring literati on the subtleties of characterization and plot, few, if any, writing instructors offer lessons on crafting a first line, or even an introductory paragraph—though many agents and editors, if not impressed after a sentence or two, will read no further.
I haven’t been to many writing workshops, but I’m surprised that this isn’t focused on more. If I had to guess, it’s because until the rest of your writing is good enough, there’s not much point selling the work in the first paragraph: it’s still going to get rejected.
Here are their 10 ways. If they make you curious, click through to read the breakdown:
- Build momentum
- Resist the urge to start too early
- Remember that small hooks catch more fish than big ones
- Open at a distance and close in
- Avoid getting ahead of your reader
- Start with a minor mystery
- Keep talk to a minimum
- Be mindful of what works
- When in doubt, test several options
- Revisit the beginning once you reach the end
As with all these things, pick and choose and adapt them to suit your story.