by: J.R. Lindermuth
Your first sentence should draw the reader in. The second should compel him to continue reading.
That isn’t sage advice from some great writing seer. It’s my admonishment to myself as I begin each new story or novel. I’ve been using it since a reviewer said she was “hooked after page three” about an earlier book.
Page three is too darned late to hook most readers.
People have short attention spans and we writers need to perk their curiosity from the beginning. And the best way to accomplish it is with an opening that inspires “who,””what” or “why?”
Richard Wrights great novel “Native Son” (1940) begins with:
The second line is taken up with explaining it’s the sound of an alarm clock, which diminishes the impact. I don’t think it would work today. Modern readers are not patient critters.
On the other hand, Elmore Leonard’s opening…
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