Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for Opening Lines

Your opening line has a very important role, but how do you know it's fulfilling the opening lines requirements?

Check out today's list.

Opening lines should;

Get the reader hooked.
Establish the general tone of the novel.
Compel the reader to read on.
Something should be happening or just about to happen.

If you want to get your work published remember that your first reader will be an editor or agent. People who have a stack of manuscripts and are just looking for a reason to pick up the next manuscript. Make your first impression count.

One other thing! I recently went to an author talk by Sarah Lean. She recommends you know your first line. When she handed her manuscript to a possible agent it was the only question she was asked. Her mind went blank for a moment but then the writing angels stepped in and she remembered her all important first line.


  1. 'Remember your first line,' - now that's a useful piece of information I hadn't thought of. Thank you.
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - A to Z Ghosts
    Fantasy Boys XXX - A to Z Drabblerotic

  2. And yes, as a reader, first lines don't stay with me. Impressions yes, but the line escapes.

  3. This couldn't be more true, CC! Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Charlotte,

    Your point about opening lines applies just as well to blog posts. Many readers only ever read the first couple of sentences of a post. They won't click onto the link and read the rest if they haven't been 'hooked'. I've been catching up with your posts. Very helpful. Thank you!

  5. The first line is the glue that allows you to stick with the next line, next paragraph, next page, and so on. It can be anything from "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" to "I pooped on the floor of Buckingham Palace."

  6. I need to work on my opening lines. I often come up with what I feel are strong lines for later in a story, but it's rare that I start at the start! Your Notebook post is interesting too. I think we have moved to technologies that assist in same, and there's really no excuse for a writer not to have a notebook of one kind or another to assist them in their writing.

    Thanks for the Challenge theme, Ms Comley. It's a great little service you have provided your fellow scribes.

  7. Good advise!

  8. Hi! I love the advice to know your first line - it's so important! I immediately thought of my last story I wrote, and nope, I couldn't remember! It was a little while ago, but still.

    Thanks for the tips and tricks!
    Michelle @ In Media Res

  9. Stopping by on the AtoZ.....I'm loving all these posts about becoming a published author. I'm not convinced yet that I have it in me, but wow, am I finding some great advice!! Good luck with your challenge!

  10. Opening anything is always the hardest part for me. I usually write from the middle and then come up with the opener.

  11. I have to agree with Lana, I am not sure if I have it in me to actually publish something! I have read through a number of your A to Z posts and have learned a lot. Perhaps I will make a go of it! I actually had someone tell me today that when she was in high school she hated to read, but when she had to do a book report she would pick a book, read the first line and last line, if should couldn't make them make sense, she wouldn't read the book. I had never heard that before, but thought it was interesting to say the least! Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier!

  12. Some good tips here. You're giving me an idea of what to write for 'S', if I'm done with my serial story by then! Writer’s Mark