Here’s the truth about your book. You can have done all the keyword research, entry optimization, street team building, and cover design in the world…but if it doesn’t grab reader attention, and grab it early, you won’t get the reviews and traction you need to really succeed.
There’s no one best way to start a book. Different books with famously great openings have started in different ways. For example…
- “Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.” — Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God
- “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” — J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit
- “124 was spiteful” — Toni Morrison’s Beloved
- “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” — George Orwell’s 1984
- “The building was on fire, and it wasn’t my fault.” — Jim Butcher’s Blood Rites
Okay…so might not exactly be George Orwell or Toni Morrison (at least not yet), but that doesn’t mean you can’t craft a truly compelling first line. The kind of line that grabs a reader by the scruff of the neck and pulls them into the narrative, but not before they first stop, say “Woah…”, and read it over again first.
But how do you do that? Every book is different and demands different answers, but let’s look at some of the best ways to craft a truly demanding first sentence. One of them will almost certainly be right for your work in progress.