Writing My First Sentence Took 12 Trys And It’s Still A WIP

Work In Progress, that is. This summer while on a mini hiatus from my novel I was asked by Potomac Review’s Andrea Pawley, a fantastic writer and author, to guest blog on their web site. I was honored, so of course I said YES!

Whenever I’m asked to guest write, I always like to explore and share the issues I struggle with as a writer. My hope is that other writers will benefit from my mini  Aha! Moments, thus gaining a little more sleep during those late nights staring at their computer screens.

This time around I shared my observations and learning experiences when developing the first sentence for my current novel.  I explored the why and how. Here’s a small peak into my post.

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The Hook: First Sentences Are Not Easy For a Reason

The truth is no one ever judges a book by its cover (We hope); they judge it by its first line. A Creative Writing teacher explained her method of book selection. She opens to the first page and scans the first line. If in those few seconds it doesn’t grab her, she walks away from it completely. She’s not alone. Most publishers take only 20 seconds to read the first paragraph of your story before they decide to either dump or read on through the next five pages. Your story is riding on that first sentence; make it memorable.

I Am The Queen of Run-on Sentences

When I first started my novel, there were two things I knew with clarity: how the story should begin and how it should end. At first, the task and responsibility of the first sentence was difficult for me to grasp. I knew I wanted the first sentence to convey cherished love, the innocence of a young boy on the cusp of adulthood, loneliness, a sense of time passing, urgency and sacrifice. My first reaction was to jam everything into one long monster run-on of a sentence. Staring at the page, I was heart broken. All of the words seemed to all collapse onto themselves. I had no first sentence, and there I stood stuck.

Until I read this….

“A good first line should be as good as your favorite film quote. Something that even when taken out of context has power – the power to make someone laugh, think, gasp or grimace.” – Christopher Jackson

You can read the full post at Potomac Review- A Journal of Arts and Humanities

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8 comments on “Writing My First Sentence Took 12 Trys And It’s Still A WIP

  1. That’s a great way to think about it! I think I need to go over mine again.

    • Natasha says:

      Thanks Ileandra! Yes, it wasn’t until I did a little research did I understand how to craft a better first sentence. Believe it or not, I went through my entire home library of books and read the first sentences of each, then went to Barnes and Noble and did the same thing. I really began to recognize strong first sentences from the weaker ones.

      • That sounds like a lot of work, but I can see how it would be really beneficial. Thankfully, I think that’s something I can do quite easily on my Kindle. ^_^

      • Natasha says:

        Ahhhh….See I don’t have a Kindle.. unless of course you count the itty bitty tiny version on my iphone LOL!

      • Hehee, I bet you couldn’t read a whole novel that way. But it might help you with first lines.

      • Natasha says:

        Lol! I actually have, 5 in fact! Riding on the subway, commuting to and from work and while in bed as a quick read. Believe it or not it’s not that bad. In fact you feel like you are getting through the book so quickly because you are co stanly flipping the pages on your phone! HA!

      • Wow, that’s really good! I struggle reading my emails that way, so I’m impressed. And its a tidy way to carry books around.

      • Natasha says:

        Totally! AND it means I dont have to drop an other $100-$600 bucks on another machine lol!

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