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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:
Use strong verbs (grammar.about.com/od/grammarfa….
Show your subject.
Keep it short.
Move the plot.
For a hook to be effective, it should do at least one of the following:
appeal to the readers’ emotions
raise questions about what will happen
reveal something that isn’t anticipated
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. -- raspil.deviantart.com/art/I-Fo…
Zeke lifted Nina’s dress up off over her head. -- FFM 10
Big Ron held a locker key in his hand. -- raspil.deviantart.com/art/The-…
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.
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.
Here are my 12 (I came up with 24 just to be safe): raspil.deviantart.com/art/12-F…
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