Three Qualities That Make For An Engaging First Line

The Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference (CCWC) introduced me to a deeper level of editing. Not only am I excited to apply this understanding to my own work, but I’m itching to apply it to manuscripts from my clients. I was honored to be accepted into the Fiction Intensive Clinic taught by author, editor, and publisher, Jeff Gerke (Marcher Lord Press) at the CCWC and one specific nugget mined from this clinic applied to writing an engaging first line.

According to Jeff Gerke, an engaging first line should contain the following three components:

  1. It should be simple.
  2. It should be interesting and engaging: the beginning of your novel is the portal to the rest of the book. It’s possible to have a simple opening line without it being engaging.
  3. It should be appropriate for the tone of your book. For example, if your book is a sweet comedy romance, don’t start with, “Mother died of a flesh-eating disease.”

Here are some examples of first lines I personally like:

I was born during the second holocaust. (Enclave, by Ann Aguirre)

Piper decided to jump off the roof. (The Girl Who Could Fly, by Victoria Forester)

There was once a time when only God knew the day you’d die. (My work in progress, A Time to Die)

They took me in my nightgown. (Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys)

Take these three points and examine your own first line. Does it have all three components? If not, what’s missing? Do you have any favorite first lines?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s