Saturday, May 7, 2011

The First Two Sentences

You've written an entire novel, possibly the length of over 100,000 words, yet those first two sentences can provide the most anguish.  They are what can hook a glancing reader, or make them close the book.  No pressure - right?

If you're like me, you're rarely satisfied with the first two sentences.  You revise, and re-work, and "rinse and repeat" so many times that it becomes an obsession.  You wake up in the night with the perfect wording, the ideal epiphany.  You force your eyes open, scribble it on a piece of paper, and in the morning (if it's legible) sometimes it results in a "huh".  And back to the revisions, and the search for perfect words.

So what hooks a reader?  Maybe it's best to start by asking ourselves.  When you pick up a novel what makes you take it to check-out or return it to the shelf?

Personally, I love something that shows conflict - whether it be imminent danger, or just simply a character's internal conflict. It has to be something I can relate to.  I want to feel a connection.

How important on those first two sentences to you?  What hooks you? Do you have any advice on a "formula" for making the perfect start?  How do you turn off the editor's voice, and obsession?  Do you just accept what you have written and move on?