Wednesday, November 17, 2010

That all important first sentence

As a rookie writer, I don't have the luxury of relying on a fan base.  Actually, no one even knows I exist, so I'm being told that to pull the average reader to my story, I must grab their attention with the first sentence.  Something which will set the hook and leave the reader dying to know more.  Pretty simple, huh?  Let's try one.

    Peter stood at the end of the pier staring at the sunset, rope tied to his leg, cinder block in hand, thinking he could really go for a cheeseburger right about now.

Does this simple group of words strung together make you want to know more?  Why is Peter there?  Is he really going to commit suicide?  Is the story over before it even gets started?  What's the significance of the cheeseburger?  Probably not very thought provoking so let's try another one.

    Peter drove off the pier.

Ridiculous.  Or is it?  If I opened a book, read this first sentence, and was then distracted, would I eagerly return to it once my undivided attention could be devoted to it?  Maybe. 

    Peter reached for the volume control, and as he cranked the knob all the way to the right, the vehicle became air born, tossing his cheeseburger and milkshake onto the floor as the car dove off the end of the pier. 

Here's the cheeseburger again.  Was he drunk?  Did he get to eat any of the cheeseburger?  What was he listening to on the radio?  One more.

    Peter tore through the wrapper, devouring the cheeseburger as if it were his last meal, only to realize he had made a fatal mistake letting Jane drive his car.

Now this is more like it!  The cheeseburger's back.  Something fatalistic is about to happen.  Why is Peter so hungry and why would he let Jane drive if she sucked so bad?  Things to ponder.  I want to know more.

    See Peter run.

Yeah baby!  Doesn't get any better than that!  I mean, come on...I've got to know more.  Not only do I feel nostalgic at this simple three word gem, I get to wonder what Peter is running from.  Or is he running to something?  Did the author mean to use the name Peter instead of Dick, and if so, what is the significance of this?  In the sequel do we get to see Peter walk?  Or maybe swim?  Maybe it's a typo and it was supposed to read See Peter's urn.  Whatever, all I know is it's very thought provoking.

    Peter, allowing himself only the briefest moment of sadness, removes the cinder block from in front of the tire and watches as his Buick, Jane strapped into the driver's seat, slowly rolls off the end of the pier, cheeseburger in tow.  He cries.

Ok...that was two sentences...sorry.  I'll keep working on it.  I'd love to hear some of yours.



Brian said...

all I know is i now want a cheeseburger and am afraid to get in my car. I also can't wait to see what happens to Peter!

kbjaxx said...

The absolutely best opening line in any story is: "...I never thought this would happen to me...."

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