Monday, April 1, 2013


By Maria C. Ferrer

April 1st is the day for fools – fools in love, fools rushing in, fools galore. It’s a day for pranks, laughter and good jokes. When telling a joke, the key is to have a great punch line – basically, a great ending. When writing a novel –romance or otherwise–, the key is to have a great opening line.

The opening line is too often the only chance an author has to make a first good impression with a reader. Heck, that one line can make or break the sale, which could have led to future sales. The loss is just too depressing to contemplate, which is why your opening line is crucial. Crucial, with a capital “C”.

Here are some examples of great opening lines:

From Julie Garwood romance: "They say he killed his first wife."
Do you not want to know more about this man at the same time that you want to run from him?

From GONE WITH THE WIND: "Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were."
You either want to be like Scarlett or hate her with this intro!

From PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."
Are those fighting words or what?!

From J.D. Robb suspense: “The business of murder took time, patience, skill, and a tolerance for the monotonous.”
Are shivers not running down your spine after reading that opening?

Think of opening lines from your favorite books or even your own books. Why did they worked? How did they captivate you?

Your opening line has to grab the reader's attention. Yes, this is that famous "hook" moment that everyone talks about. Your opening line, your opening hook should draw readers into your story and make them want to know more about your characters, more about the scene you have opened with; it should leave them wanting more.

Now, capturing the attention of today's readers is difficult. They have a short attention span to begin, and their thirst for immediate gratification makes writers' lives hard. Because if we do not hook them with our opening line, they are moving onto someone else's book. So hook them!

Here are five tips to a great opening line:

1) Start with an action or dialogue

2) Paint a picture

3) Set up a mystery

4) Introduce a character

5) Show them a new world

Opening lines are not easy. Sometimes I have spent days rewriting that one line because it doesn't work for me so I know it will not work for my reader. Other days, the line just magically writes itself. However long it takes for you to find that one great opening line, it will be worth it in the end.

You may have to write a whole scene, a whole chapter, a whole book, before you find just that right one. And that is alright. Whatever works for you. And if all else fails, make them laugh.

A good joke works at conventions, state dinners, weddings so why not as an opening line?♥

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