You’ve probably heard it before, but the opening line of your story can make all the difference when you are in the submission phase of your story.
And yet it eludes many writers. We are too close to the story. We are sure we need to start where we started when we wrote the first draft. We want to establish the scene, the character, the theme.
Often times we just plunk our reader down in a seat and expect them to stay. Sometimes they will if that seat turns out to have a good view, but if they are agents, editors or publishers, they might have more important places to be.
So how to write a great opener?
First lets examine some classic openers that just do not work anymore.
It was a dark and stormy night. Cliche
Jennette awoke to the bright sun streaming in her window. Boring and Cliche
All Roy ever wanted was a normal life. Whiny, boring and Cliche
You want your first line of the story to throw glitter in the face of your reader, blinding them to everything but your words, compelling them to sit down in that chair on their own so that they have a better view of what you got to show them.
The best way to do this? Start with action. Start with weirdness. Start with whatever it is about your book that makes it so freaking great.
The first scream was nearly drowned out by the sharp crack of thunder.
Jennette awoke to a hand around her throat.
On his way out the door to work, Roy found two gray aliens leaned up against his black Buick. “Not again,” he thought.
Can you see the difference? Starting with urgency or intrigue immediately ups the ante of the story and is an extremely effective way of cleaning up your work.