The first paragraph is probably the hardest in the book. It’s now or never if you want to hook your reader.
But how should you do it?
My advice: start with something out of the ordinary:
An unusual image maybe: “Miss Melody liked to knit jackets for trees”
A question maybe: “Why was Jonathan lying on the road in the middle of the night?”
Or maybe something that evokes emotion: “When my daughter went missing, I would have sold my soul to the devil to find her”.
Once you have the reader’s attention, feed them more. Readers want a quick checklist to get oriented: What is the time and place? Who’s the protagonist? Readers are like disembodied parasites. They need to find a head to jump inside, before they can be taken around on a tour and see, hear, smell and feel your imaginary world.
But for Pete’s sake don’t hit readers with over-description. If it’s not revelant then don’t include it. Readers don’t care what kind of car Joe drives, the name of Miss Melody’s dress designer, or the business partners in CrapCor, Inc. Other things not to start with: detailed, poetic landscape description, the name of the King of the Blarghh empire, the genealogy of Trilithium Phaser wizards, what the Ancient Scrolls say, or a detailed schematic of the Starship Smersh. Sure, readers will want to figure all that out eventually, but the first paragraph is just too soon.
While I’m at it, don’t hit readers over the head with a violent death scene the minute that they open the book. Ten ninjas chasing me chopping off my limbs with magic swords that spit dragon fire? It’s a bit over the top my friends. Starting a book is like entering an unfamiliar house. What would you like your visitors to see?
About the Author:
L. Woodswalker is an electronic musician, graphic and video artist, DIY crafter and a lifelong science fiction writer and fan. She is fascinated by the wonders of science, nature and the cosmos. If she is not creating something, she is usually outside hiking, planting trees or watching thunderstorms.