After giving close reading to a dozen first sentences, half mine and half others, I’m ready to make a list of things that a first line can do (although probably no first line should try to do all of them).
- Include a mystery the reader wants to solve by reading the next sentence.
- Set a fast reading pace.
- Foreshadow the story.
- Establish the basics the reader needs to move on with the story.
- Create relationships between reader, character and narrator.
- Quickly encourage readers who are interested, and discourage those who would rather read something else.
- Most importantly, the use of A) diction, B) grammar, C) imagery and D) punctuation in order to establish X) character, Y) setting, and Z) mood.
Or, in abbreviated graphic form:
What else do you think they do?