Killer First Lines

First lines can be incredibly important in convincing somebody to read your book. Naturally, you want to create a first line that instantly grabs the reader.

It’s hard to give good advice about first lines, because there are a lot of good ways to write a first line. Here are the two best pieces of advice I can think of though.

  1. Try to think of something that might seem out of the ordinary or unexpected to your reader, even if it’s totally normal, day-in-the-life of your main character. Think of your inciting incident. This will help you come up with something attention grabbing.
  2. Pay attention to voice. The opening lines set the tone for your entire book. More than any other line in the book, you want the first line to fit the voice of your book.

One final thing. Don’t get hung up on the first line. Yes it’s important. Yes you want to get it just right. But I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent staring at a blank page because I didn’t want to start writing unless I could start with a perfect opening.

Don’t do this to yourself. First lines need to go through drafts, just like the rest of your novel. I think I cycled through about twenty different opening lines on my last story.

Even if you come up with a catchy opening line your first try, it may not fit your book once the rest is written.

So yes, first lines are incredibly important. You want yours to be the best it possibly can. But you also just need to start writing. Don’t let your quest for the perfect first line keep you from starting the book.


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