When reviewing a first draft, look especially at the opening line/paragraph.
Does it hook your reader?
These are opening lines from books I’ve recently read and enjoyed.
- From ‘The Book of You’ by Claire Kendal
It is you. Of course it is you. Always it is you. Someone is catching up to me and I turn and see you. I’d known it would be you, but still, I lose my footing on the frozen snow.
- From ‘The Glassblower of Murano’ by Marina Fiorato
As Corradin Manin looked on the lights of San Marco for the last time, Venice from the lagoon seemed to him a golden constellation in the dark blue velvet dusk. How many of those windowpanes, that adorned his city like costly gems, had he made with his own hands? Now they were lit to guide him at the end of the journey of his life. Guide him home at last.
- From ‘The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August’ by Claire North
The second cataclysm began in my eleventh life, in 1966. I was dying my usual death, slipping away in a warm morphine haze, which she interrupted like an ice cube down my spine. She was seven, I was seventy-eight …
Do they make you want to read on?
Examine the beginnings of books you’ve read. What do you learn from them?
According to crime writer, William Ryan, in an article published on the Artists & Writers website, the opening lines can sell a book, and his recommendation is that they include mention of the protagonist, and raise enough questions in the minds of the readers to compel them to read on.
Here’s my simple checklist for a good opener:
- Does the author jump in feet first? No back story waffle … but with a hint of the setting / era?
- Is the MC (main character) – his/her predicament and personality – firmly in the spotlight?
- Am I intrigued as to where this story might go? Am I already asking questions? Do I want to read on?
Now, revisit your own opening paragraph. And do the same also for the opening line/paragraph of each chapter …
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