The First Sentence

Every piece of writing needs a hook and I’m not talking about the Captain variety, though he is always a heap of fun.

No, I’m talking about the first sentence. Every writer should put a lot of time and effort into the first sentence. A great first sentence intrigues the reader and invites them to stay for more. A bad first sentence will send the reader packing.

When I’m reading submissions for the publications I work with I always pay close attention to the first sentence. If it doesn’t grab me straight away then 99% of the time I will reject the manuscript. The rest of the manuscript must be outstanding to get into that 1% bracket.

The reason I pay such close attention to the first sentence as an editor is because you can bet the reader will be doing the same thing. If their interest isn’t piqued right from the word go, then they will stop reading and find something that does grab their attention.

While I suggest putting a lot of time into the first sentence, you mustn’t over think it. I have read countless manuscripts that either begin with a sentence so long it takes me five minutes to read, or where the writer has tried to impress me with their wide vocabulary, but instead insulted the English language with their ego.

The best first sentences are eloquent, informative, and simple.

2 thoughts on “The First Sentence

  1. Tony says:

    I couldn’t agree more. It is absolutely essential that the first sentence not only gives the flavour of the writing, but also (in the case of a blog or similar short article) tells the reader what they are in for in as succinct a manner as possible.

    Liked by 1 person

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