First Lines Part III: What Can They Do?

Part I: Half a Dozen of My Recent Stories
Part II: from Some of My Favorite Stories

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).

  1. Include a mystery the reader wants to solve by reading the next sentence.
  2. Set a fast reading pace.
  3. Foreshadow the story.
  4. Establish the basics the reader needs to move on with the story.
  5. Create relationships between reader, character and narrator.
  6. Quickly encourage readers who are interested, and discourage those who would rather read something else.
  7. 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 a first line can do

What else do you think they do?

2 thoughts on “First Lines Part III: What Can They Do?

  1. Pingback: Pixel Scroll 4/13/16 The Dark Nightfall Returns | File 770

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