Opening lines….Hook your reader immediately by Alicia Dean

In today’s society, modern conveniences have spoiled us to instant gratification. We live in a rush, rush world and have little time or patience for waiting…for anything. For me, back when I was younger, reading a novel meant a lengthy relationship that I settled into, one in which I allowed myself time to become engaged. Today, I’m too busy for that nonsense. Hook me right away or lose me.

You don’t really have to hook readers with the very first  line, but definitely within the first few pages. Opening lines, however, are important. A great first line should intrigue readers, make them ask a question (or questions), and make them want to read on to learn the answer(s).  If you can hook the reader with the very first line, you have done your job. Besides, creating a compelling and clever first line is so much fun!

Some of my favorite first lines are…

“The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years — if it ever did end — began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain.” ~ From It by Stephen King

 

“The trouble with dead people today was they had no sense of decorum.”
From Keys to the Coven by Vicky Lobel

 

“Nathan Rubin died because he got brave.” From Die Trying by Lee Child

 

“I sat in the back pew and watched the only woman I would ever love marry another man.” From  Six Years by Harlen Coben

A few first lines from my novels…(I should have led with these since they are a bit pathetic compared to those above :))

“Gravel and blood filled Audra Grayson’s mouth, but she’d long ago lost the strength to spit it out.” From Soul Seducer

 

“Ivy drew the arrow back, zeroing in on the elderly man’s chest.” From Cupid’s Beau

 

“I think about dead people a lot.” From Death Offerings

Do these opening lines make you ask questions? Make you want to read more to get the answers?

Beware…if you hook them with the first line, you  have to deliver and keep up the momentum. Don’t work hard on a great first line, then fall flat right after.

What about you? What are some of the best opening lines you’ve read? Or written?

If you’d like to leave an opening line from a work in progress and ask for feedback, I would be happy to take a look and comment.

Alicia Dean Tin Man ColorAlicia Dean lives in Edmond, Oklahoma. She writes suspense and paranormal romance and is a freelance editor, as well as an editor for The Wild Rose Press (as Ally Robertson). Find her at…Website: www.AliciaDean.com Twitter: @Alicia_Dean_ Facebook: Alicia Dean

 

11 thoughts on “Opening lines….Hook your reader immediately by Alicia Dean

  • Here’s the opening line from my current WIP. Let me know what you think. Is it worthy?

    Juliette St. James had only done two impetuous things in her life. And, from the billowing cloud of black smoke belching out from under the hood of her car, the second one was no wiser than the first.

  • Hi Becky…thanks for sharing your opening line. Great job! Definitely an attention grabber. Makes us ask the questions…what was the first impetuous thing she’d done? What was the second and how did it result in billowing smoke coming from her car? What’s wrong with the car? Where is she and how bad an impact will her impetuous action have on her and others?

    I could go on and on….excellent first line 🙂

  • First lines are a LOT of fun, not that I always do them well. LOL My best is probably from Nothing But Trouble – Chase Paladin slammed on the breaks and prayed. The first line from my current WIP is kind of fun, but on the long side. In Cole Matheson’s experience, there was only one thing in the state of Texas louder than the whine of his chainsaw—the red haired demon child he called a nephew. What do you think? Keep it or toss it out with the trash? Great blog, Alicia.

  • Hi Jannine…thanks for stopping by. I think you do great with first lines! Sometimes a long one works, and I definitely wouldn’t toss the one for your current WIP. However, I might tweak it just a bit. What do you think about this?:

    There was only one thing in the state of Texas louder than the whine of Cole’s chainsaw—the red haired demon child he called a nephew.

    Not knowing what your next line is, it’s hard to say how to continue, but I would work Cole’s full name into the next line, something like: Cole Matheson swore under his breath and…(etc etc)

    I LOVE your opening line of A Deadly Love: The sniveling creature crouched on the cot was a disappointment.

    Of course, you know I like the creepy stuff. 🙂

  • I have two – differnt books. Both are first passes (without much thought!)

    (1) Sanctuary, Virginia, had no shortage of naked women.

    (2) The night air simmered with a humidity oppressive enough to make even a swamp rat wilt and whimper in distress.

    Keep working, right? 🙂

    • These first lines are great, Leah. But I would expect nothing else from you. 🙂 Even with a first pass, your talent shines through.

      The first one grabs me and makes me ask, Naked women? What? Is it a nudist colony? Is it a brothel? Why so many naked women? Sanctuary? Sounds like a place someone would hide…is this some kind of cult and they make women walk around naked?

      The second one doesn’t evoke all that many questions but it sets a tone. Something is about to happen. ‘Oppressive’ ‘Whimper in distress’ ‘Simmered’ – All of these evoke a mood, a state of mind for our POV character. Whether or not something is about to happen, we know that this indivudual is experiencing emotions that will take us on a journey and connect us deeply with him or her.

      Thanks for sharing!

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