Opening Line

We’ve all heard how important the first line of any story is. We’ve written them and then rewritten them a hundred, no, a thousand times and still wonder if it’s good enough.

Here are a few thoughts about opening lines:

  1. Does it create a sense of intrigue or peak the readers’ interest? If not, what can you do to make it so?
  2. Doe it truly reflect what the story is about or does it create a false impression? That first line should “fit” with the story, not just be a lead to grab attention.
  3. Does it allow for an escalation of tension? If not, what needs to change to make it function in that way?
  4. Does it introduce the protagonist? Or does it present the conflict? In some way it has to do these things. If not, the reader will not be interested.
  5. And, as we all know, does it hook the reader and make the reader want to keep going? But…the hook cannot be a false premise.

Your task is to write five different opening lines for a story that’s tumbling about in your head. After this is done, apply the above five thoughts to each of the lines.

Select the strongest line and write.

Try to get past the first page, then stop and reflect on that first line. Is it working? If not, what can you change so that it does?

Have fun with this one.


One thought on “Opening Line

  1. I’m questioning #4 for a specific reason (and this has come up at MCWC time, time and time again). Does the opening passage, not even the sentence, have to introduce the protagonist? If so, why? I’m thinking specifically of thrillers and murder mysteries, where the MC might be a detective, and they may not appear on the scene until as late as Chapter Three. Certainly we should see some conflict, if not an actual corpse, in those early paragraphs but I’m not convinced the MC has to make an appearance.

    Just a thought.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to working with this prompt!


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