What’s in a First Sentence? In a Word: Everything

This is a guest post by Cindy C Bennett. Cindy lives in Utah with her high school sweetheart turned hubby of 25 years and two of her four kids. (The other two are still around, they just no longer live at home) She is the author of the new release from Sweetwater Geek Girl, a contemporary young adult novel. When not at her keyboard–which is rare–she can be found either reading, resting, or riding her Harley. Those are her “three R’s”. She feels very blessed and grateful for the opportunities life has afforded her so far. You can connect with Cindy online at her blog, on Facebook, Twitter, or GoodReads. She also recently completed a blog tour.

Cindy would like to invite everyone out to celebrate Geek Girl’s release at the launch party Saturday, December 10th at Eborn Books, South Towne Mall,10450 S State St, Sandy, UT from 12-3 pm.

What’s in a First Sentence? In a Word: Everything

Cindy Bennett, LDS author, Local Utah author

Or maybe two words: almost everything. Why? In this crazy world of overly busy people who don’t have the luxury of down time like they used to, you have to hook them quick to get them to stay. Not to say that there aren’t plenty of books out there which start slowly then leisurely build. There are, particularly one very popular book series about vampires and werewolves which have since been made into an amazingly successful film franchise (is that clear enough?). Excepting the prologue (which does have a great hook) that book begins with a description of driving to the airport, the sky, and her blouse. Serious snooze.

However, those books had time to build word of mouth until they didn’t need that quick hook to pull readers in. If you have that same luxury, or if you’re an already established author with a loyal fan base, then you can stop reading now and go back to writing your slow-building novel. For the rest of us, read on.

I love to read. It’s one of my favorite pastimes. My life is very hectic. If a book doesn’t have me within the first few pages, I admit that I have a tendency to put it down and sometimes never get back to it. I used to be the kind of reader that stuck with a book to the bitter end, no matter how bad the book. I can’t do that anymore. I don’t have time. And I hardly think that I’m an exception to the rule. Everyone I know seems to be busy, busy, busy.

This is the first line of my Cedar Fort novel Geek Girl: “Think I can turn that boy bad?”

Geek Girl by Cindy Bennett, Contemporary YA, High school Romance, LDS Utah authors

Why did I choose to start there? Because I thought it was an intriguing question. Who is she, who is it she wants to turn bad, and why does she want to? My hope was that it would be enough to keep my reader reading until I could firmly entrench them in the story. Conversations are much more interesting to begin with over long, boring descriptions””as long as it’s not the middle of a conversation which will confuse your reader. The beginning of your book is an excellent place to use the clichéd but oh-so-true show not tell.

When you’ve typed the last page of your novel, and invisibly typed “the end” (because we all know you never do that in reality), go back to the beginning and see how good your hook is. You may not necessarily have to have an over-the-top amazing first line, but you’d better have a pretty attention grabbing first few pages, at least. Think of it as your (ugh!) query letter to your reader. If you lose them at the beginning, you just may lose them forever. And in the immortal words of Johnny Mathis (before my time! I’m not that old””yet) “. . . that’s a long, long, time.”

One thought on “What’s in a First Sentence? In a Word: Everything

  • December 12, 2011 at 10:06 am

    You’re so right.
    EVERY word counts.

    I think it takes a long time to figure out where a story starts – at least that’s something I occasionally struggle with. Well done.
    Oh. And I love your book 😀

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