How To Craft A Great Opening Sentence


I’m horrible.

Sure I’m nice to animals, co-workers, and my kiddo….but I’m horrible to iffy opening sentences.  I’m picky and my standards are high for those writers who come to me and want me to help make their story the best it could be.

When I’m reviewing an opening sentence, I look for short clear sentences that grab my attention.   Example:  What do you pack when you have four minutes to leave your husband?

Woah.  This is great because you start thinking it’s a boring question about packing…then BAM! you’re hit with that twist at the end that pulls you in.

You will also want to edit your opening to use language that adds weight to your sentence.  Example: Your first impression of me: I looked like butter wouldn’t melt.

That is surely strongly suggesting that your first impression might be way off base, yet it conveys that impression by making the reader do most of the work. As a rough guide, the more the reader feels they’ve made a deduction, the more powerful that conclusion will feel.

Also, edit your opening carefully to ensure that you’re using verbs correctly and adjectives sparingly.  Example: He’s searching you out behind the disused factory, waiting for a sudden flap of wings to reveal your position.

This sentence reads well and uses tense and description very effectively.

Finally, your opening doesn’t have to be loud – subtlety can be very effective.   Example: The house had something of the American Gothic about it, though nothing it was minded to share.

Nothing really happens in this sentence, but you’re drawn in and it’s well written – so it works very well as an opening.

If you need help with the opening sentence (or paragraph, or first chapter) of your book, contact me and we’ll create something short, weighty, grammatically appealing, and perfect in tone.  It’s easier than you think!  (See opening of this blog post for another example)

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