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Submitted on
January 1, 2013


2,629 (1 today)
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:star: :star: :star: NEW VIDEO!  Planning vs Not Planning

When I'm looking through books in a brick and mortar store, I flip to the middle of a book for some reason and then put it on the shelf as if I ever had any intention of buying it (I don't know what compels me to buy a book anymore, to be honest).  HOWEVER...

When I am here at deviantART, our supercool scrolling thumb feature allows me to see the first sentence of a story and make the determination on whether or not I want to continue reading.  That said... I don't read much around here.  


Boy, rhetoric is fun.  We know why.

I don't judge a book by its cover but goddamn I will judge a story by its first line.  It's called a "hook" for a reason.  No one wants to read your story if your opening sentence is

She heard a bird chirp outside her window; slowly, she opened her eyes and yawned, the winged animal acting as her alarm clock.

Nothing there to compel me to continue.  Next.

I am a salmon.  If you don't reel me in, you don't get to eat.  Get it?

What does it take to hook someone in?

Suggestions I've found:
:bulletred:  Use strong verbs (….
:bulletred:  Show your subject.
:bulletred:  Keep it short.
:bulletred:  Be specific.  
:bulletred:  Be dynamic.
:bulletred:  Move the plot.

For a hook to be effective, it should do at least one of the following:
:bulletblue:  appeal to the readers’ emotions
:bulletblue:  raise questions about what will happen
:bulletblue:  reveal something that isn’t anticipated
:bulletblue:  indicate that something is about to change

Some of my favorite opening lines from my own work:
Chocolate never meant to hurt anyone. -- Nanowrimo 2009
I had sex with Rob for the first time on Thanksgiving. --…
Zeke lifted Nina’s dress up off over her head. -- FFM 10
Big Ron held a locker key in his hand.   --…

Those use some (but not all) of the suggestions listed above.  Not all of my opening lines from my other stories follow the suggestions and could have been revised and might in the future if I choose to move forward with them.  But these hooked me in to old stories I wrote years/months ago.  I'm still learning, just like all of you.

So what's the prompt already?!

Glad you asked.  

Write 12 opening lines using the suggestions above.  
Then take one of those opening lines and write a story.
Save the rest for another time.  You'll thank yourself then.
No more than 2500 words.  Any genre, any POV.  
Due at the end of the month.  Send the finished piece in a note here or at my main page.

Why 12?

Practice.  It's all about practice.  You can keep the other 11 to yourself if you don't want to share them; it's up to you.  Besides, everything at this group is built on the honor system.  I can't make you do anything.  You have to want to do it.  If that means you just do the one to satisfy the prompt requirements or you do yourself a favor and do the rest, it's up to you and your dedication to your continued improvement as a writer.

But what about characters?  Setting?  Theme?  Derp!

Use pronouns.  Be vague if you have to.  I never said this was a one-shot deal where you had to get it right the first time.  Don't overthink things that don't need to be overthought.  Start somewhere.  Read the recommended links below and craft it together.  Concentrate on the first sentence first.  Concentrate on words you want to get across and create a story around it.  Try something new.  Push yourself.  If you're freaking out at this, YOU'RE DOING IT RIGHT.

I'm here if you need me.

Recommended reading:…………

Here are my 12 (I came up with 24 just to be safe):…

:star:  theWrittenRevolution featured Scream and Word-Smiths this month -- thewrittenrevolution.deviantar….  Show both groups some community love :love:
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Dibs-New-Beginnings Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2013  Student Writer
This may be slightly random, but my favorite first line from one of my favorite series, Uglies, is:

"The early summer sky was the colour of cat vomit. Of course, Tally thought, you'd have to feed your cat only salmon-flavoured cat food for a while, to get the pinks just right."

It was just so off the wall, I was compelled to continue, haha.
raspil Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013   Writer
please do. make sure you join the group first in order to have your story/stories be considered for the gallery. :D
TwistedAlyx Featured By Owner Mar 5, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I know I look like a bum because I'm super inactive because of [insert excuse here], but I just wanted to let you know that I really appreciate you creating these writing resource banks for us! I always like the articles and things you link us up to. :) And I do use them, and I am working on some ScreamPrompts. You'll see them at some point.
raspil Featured By Owner Mar 5, 2013   Writer
no worries! if i was going to be a total hard-ass, i'd delete each prompt after the deadline went by and no one would have a chance to try them out ever! that would be silly. these things take time, life takes a bite out of us every now and then, no bigs. thanks for getting in touch with me and updating me on your progress, i'm here if you ever have something to say.
TwistedAlyx Featured By Owner Mar 5, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I keep all of them in a Word doc on my computer so that I can look at them even when I don't have internet. And haha I don't mistake you for a real hardass. If you didn't care, you wouldn't push us. And I wouldn't care what you thought if you didn't push us. (Which is why all my favorite profs are always the "scary" ones.) I appreciate knowing you're there.

And, hey, right back at you! We all need a friend sometimes. You know where to find me. :)
nanali13 Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2013  Student General Artist
I could just wait until a fisherman catches you, and you are sold at a supermarket. :)
raspil Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2013   Writer
ha. i like it.
MuertoMushroom Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2013   Writer
Holy moly, this prompt is like pulling teeth. I'm up to five good opening lines, convinced none of them are good, and it's like physically painful doing this, even though I know strong hooks are one of the cardinal rules of good writing.

Great prompt, Raspil.
raspil Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2013   Writer
you will make it through. you can do it. like i told someone else around here of the 24 i came up with... i'm not using any of them! i had to use something else that was better than what was on the list.

do you want to send me what you have now? i'm curious to see what you've got so far. maybe we can storm something out.
MuertoMushroom Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2013   Writer
I would have been down with that, sorry. I just started new medication (antidepressant, anti-anxiety) and it's been, uh, difficult to get anything done.
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