I had a great response yesterday to the share-your-first-line invitation, and as always, I’m surprised at how many of you out there write, and write well! Great responses, and in every case, I could tell who your target audience was and the feel of the story in general. (This is why most screeners of manuscripts only need to read one page to know if what you have will fit into their book line.)
A good first line immerses you into the world, makes a connection with the reader, or simply draws you into reading the next sentence with curiosity. When I was first starting out, someone told me that most best sellers had dialog within the first three paragraphs. I don’t know how true that is anymore, but getting to the dialog has always been one of my goals, which can be hard when my style naturally gravitates to three pages of scene setting. Getting dialog sprinkled in there helps keep the pace moving.
A good exercise is to read your first three pages aloud, as if you were an audio book, and if you find you’re getting impatient to get to the good stuff, you might want to throw in dialog to break it up or just start deeper into the manuscript and drop in the setting where you can.
I was going to have the first line of chapter two today, but I didn’t get nearly far enough yesterday. I’ll open up a new page tomorrow for your second chapter, first lines.