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04.06.2011 14:27    Comments: 0    Categories: Creative Writing  Fiction Writing  Writing  Writing Craft      Tags: writing opening line  deborah owen  

When I first started writing, I never gave a thought to developing the opening line. I just had a thought, sat down, and wrote it. Of course, I didn't sell anything. I don't think anyone learned writing any slower than I did. Let me share with you what I have learned on developing the opening line.

 

It is nearly futile to worry about the opening line when you first write the story. Save that for later when you edit. Look back on it when it's cold. About 95% of the time, you can ditch the first two or three paragraphs and actually begin on the third or fourth one. Any details that you wanted to keep in those first few paragraphs can be worked in further down.

 

When you get to that point, you're ready to think about your opening line. It will set the tone for the story. Is it a romance story? Is it a horror story? Is it non-fiction that tracks drama? Whatever it is, design that first line around your story.

 

You want something snappy. Something that will reach out and grab the reader by the throat. You might want to use heavy alliteration. You might want to scare the daylights out of the reader. That first line will grab your reader and pull them in. This is called "setting the hook". Sounds like fishing, huh? In a way, it is. You're fishing for the reader, and trying to keep them from passing your story in favor of another one.

 

Would you rather read a beginning that says, "Dad had to kill chickens that day. I ran away and cried." Or would you rather read, "Dad entered the house with bloodshot eyes, and carrying a bloody axe. I scrambled for the back door, tears streaming down my face"? You can even misrepresent a scene, if you want to - as long as you can keep the excitement high enough to hold the reader's attention.

 

I read somewhere that the first line should take hours for you to decide upon. I couldn't agree more - and it should also take a lot of experimenting.

 

About the Author

 

Deborah Owen CEO & Founder Creative Writing Institute - Learn the truth about your writing skills in a 20-point evaluation. We'll help you find your weak spots and tell you how to fix them. Send a 1,000 word short story (or a 200-word non-fiction article) written in past tense, 3rd person (he, she, it). Stories must be G-rated. Please follow directions. Title your submission: EVALUATION

 

Send it to Creative Writing Institute's CEO and Founder, deborahowen@cwinst.com. Allow two weeks. One evaluation per person, please.

 

Compliments of http://www.creativewritinginstitute.com.

 
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