An interesting opener will hook your reader for the rest of your story. Be unique. Be bold. Do whatever you have to do to get their attention.
Readers Want a Bold First Sentence
Write an unexpected sentence. Something that would make you whip around and yell, “What the heck?”
That’s what your readers are looking for. A bold sentence that will make them want to know more. Look at this example from The Crow Road:
It was the day my grandmother exploded.Iain M. Banks, The Crow Road (1992)
This sentence hooks readers into wanting to know more. Your grandmother exploded? What happened? It’s such a bold hook that you can’t look away. Consider something like this next time you try to start a story.
Make it Memorable
Your first sentence needs to stand out from the millions of first sentences already out there. How are you going to do that? Look at this opening sentence from I Capture the Castle:
I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle (1948)
This sentence doesn’t fit our idea of ‘normal’. It’s different. Different is good for first sentences. Anything to hook your readers.
Ideas to make your Hook Stand out
1. Start in the Middle of your Story
If the readers think you have swept them up in an adventure that’s already started, they’ll get excited. The hook locks them into an on-the-go story.
They don’t have time to second guess whether they wanted to continue. It just happens.
2. Start with a Question
Justice?- You get justice in the next world, in this world you have the law.William Gaddis, A Frolic of His Own (1994)
Starting with a question, even a small one, will add depth and mystery to your sentence. Readers will draw their own conclusions. It allows them to become more involved in the story.
3. Start with Conflict
A hook full of conflict draws the reader’s curious side out. We all love a little drama, as long as it’s not our own.
Let us become wrapped up in your character’s conflict. This way, readers will have to stick around to see how it resolves itself.
4. Make it Unusual
It was a pleasure to burn.Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 (1953)
How strange. That peaks interest. A hook that makes you do a double-take is a hook that traps the readers.
Make it as unusual as you can. A pleasure to burn? Why are you burning? We have no choice but to read on and find out more about this sentence.
Let your Voice Shine Through
Let your first sentence be a representation of you. By reading your story, your readers are getting to know you. That opening sentence is the same as a first impression. It needs to hook the readers while staying true to the story and you. Think of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’s opening line:
Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997)
It has personality and a good hook. You want to know more and you get an idea of who the character is. If your readers can understand your personality from the opening line, you’re doing something right. Get them hooked right away!
I know all of you out there have amazing stories to tell. I’m excited to read them. Hook me. Hook your readers. Give them a sentence they won’t be able to forget.