At the Fremont Area Writers Club meeting some months ago, we had Verna Dreisbach, a literary agent, speak to us about what it takes to get noticed by an agent. She essentially said, “…when I pick up a query letter, I look for the first thing that will make me put it down…” She went on to explain that she is inundated with queries, and anything she finds wrong with one is her excuse to move on to the next.
Clearly the same is true for books. While we see a weakening in the market for books, the supply of new ones coming at us every day seems endless. If someone picks up one of our books and isn’t captured by the first sentence, and if that sentence doesn’t lead on to the next, and the next, and so on, with building wonder, excitement, mystery, or what have you, then why would the reader bother to continue?
Back in my WEbook days I saw no end of short stories and novels that had a note attached, “it starts slow, but it gets better”. I never read any of those. Would you?
Some months back I posted a list of great opening sentences. Today I want to challenge you to take up the mantle of burgeoning greatness, and write one good opening paragraph. Consider three or four sentences, each one leading to the next in a way that will pull your reader along. Post your paragraph here if you like, or keep it to yourself, but for the sake of your work, DO the process. See if you can live up to yourself.