Writer’s Workshop #5: First Lines
Did you know one of the most important things you can do for your story is to write a really strong first line (or lines)? Think about it. The first line is the very first taste your reader will have of your story. You want to grab the reader’s attention from the very start and make them want to read more.
- Start with a shocking statement.
“I’m going to die tomorrow.”
“I’m going to break the law tomorrow night.”
- Start with an introduction of the character
“I am Ivan. I am gorilla. It’s not as easy as it looks.”
“I am Sammy. I am a cheese doodle eating bunny. It’s not as strange as it sounds.”
- Start with the character talking directly to the reader.
“We only have a few hours, so listen carefully.”
“Reader I warn you, do not make the same mistake I did. Don’t ever stick out your tongue. Keep it in your mouth at all times. The safety of your identity is at stake.”
- Start with a description of the setting.
“The early summer sky was the colour of cat vomit.”
“The locker room was the same smell of my dog’s breath after he ransacked the garbage.”
- Start with an interesting fact.
“A person can survive on sixty pounds of beans and three hundred pounds of rice a year.”
“You can steal someone’s identity by stealing their tongue. You see, every human has a unique tongue print. No two are alike.”
- Start with clever dialogue.
“When I was twelve I broke my leg jumping off the wall between Canada and Germany,” I say, but the woman across from me doesn’t even blink.”
“When will I see my family again?” I asked the mas scientist for the umpteenth time. Of course, he didn’t answer me. He never does.
Copying another author’s lines is not okay (that’s called plagiarism) but being inspired by great writers—and learning from great books—is how every author masters his or her craft.