3 Ways to Hook your Reader with Your Very First Line

By Kirsti Call

My favorite mug features first lines of classic books.

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I am an invisible man.  

Marley was dead to begin with.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Each of these lines draws me in and makes me want to read more.  Richard Peck said: “You’re only as good as your opening line.” How do we keep our readers intrigued and wanting more?

Ask a question.  Asking a question gets readers thinking. Not a Box immediately asks: “Why are you sitting in a box?”  We want to turn the page to find out the answer. The Day the Babies Crawled Away questions: “Remember the day the babies crawled away?”  This piques our interest.  We want to know what happened on that fateful day.  Did the babies survive?  Where did they go?

Take People by Surprise. Mustache Baby declares: “When Baby Billy was born, his family noticed something odd: He had a mustache.”  A baby with a mustache?  We have to read on.  Leonardo the Terrible Monster tells us: “Leonardo was a terrible monster…he couldn’t scare anyone.”  A monster who isn’t scary?  I can’t wait to turn the page.

Use word play. Being Frank starts with: “Frank was always frank” and  Bridget’s Beret is similar: “Bridget was drawn to drawing.”  There’s nothing  better than the clever use of words to get people wanting more.

How can you use questions, surprise, wonder, opinion and word play to make the first sentences of your stories irresistible?

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