That First Sentence

That First Sentence

A Lesson by Cassandra L K

The first sentence is everything. Hints on different beginnings for stories, and how to make your audience and readers love them and your story.


What you read here will change your life. 

No, it won't, or, it won't most likely won't, but did you notice? I won't say it will apply to everyone, but did you notice how you jumped to the next part of the lesson? This is the power of a powerful first sentence. Here: I will give you some more examples. 

The Vatican was burning. 

The explosion was deafening. 

The silence was shattering. 

Now, read them, and just sit and think. Go back, and think some more. Each one is a short sentence, but each word counts - a lot. In those sentences there is a story to be told, and the reader will understand this. However, beginning sentences do not have to start with a dramatic declaration, especially considering not all stories begin with a riveting beginning. However, one must be wary when to begin. 

This can be considered marketing. 

In the first sentence, you should try to sell your story to your readers. 

There are a few different approaches to a successful first sentence, the first being the 'Dramatic Declaration'. In this sentence, as in the examples above, you will have a declaration in it. Usually, the shorter the better. Think of this as the front page of a newspaper. The title should sell the story, and the newspaper. If it was a long, and tedious title like 'Jane Doe ate Cheerio Cereal and found she really liked it,' the newspaper probably wouldn't sell. Think of the first sentence of your story as the headline for a newspaper for the 'Dramatic Declaration'. 

This type of first sentence catches the reader and drags them - rather harshly - into your story. 

Now, not to confuse anyone, but while dramatic declarations are usually short and concise, they can be longer as well. 

The water fell, further and further down, cascading down the long drop that made up the Crystal Waterfall, falling, right on top of a cold, motionless body. 

Any beginning sentence that includes a shocking or intriguing fact in it fits into the 'Dramatic Declaration' sentence category. 

The other type of beginning sentence would be the 'Anit-Climatic Declaration'. These types of sentences are not as gripping, but they set the tone for your story. These sentences are those that don't have the reader ask questions, but rather slow their mind down, calming them. Here are some examples: 

The sun rose, its rays gently grazing against the cool morning. 

He lifted the coffee mug to his lips, drinking the hot liquid as he read the morning paper. 

She sighed, her chin resting on her hand as she sighed and gazed longingly outside. 

These types of sentences are purposefully dull and lacklustre, since, rather than drag the reader in, they set the mood and the tone for their first chapter or story. The writer must be wary of these types of sentences, because if they are too drawn out or jarringly grammatically incorrect, it may push your readers away, rather than draw them in. 

The last major first sentence type would be the 'Dialogue Declaration'. This is where a person is speaking in as the first sentence. It can be a dramatic declaration, or a simple statement, followed by a paragraph. Here is an example: 

"There is no way." 
"Course, all you have to do is jump." He replied, giving her a cheeky smile. 

Dialogue Declaration can be used in a multitude of ways, but what it does, essentially, is jump right into the story, which is a huge selling point. It also is a jumpstart into the character's personality. A shy, timid person's dialogue would sound far different than a brash, brave character. Also, if there are more than one person in your beginning scene, the interaction between these people will be more crucial, as their relationships are what will draw the reader in. 

The drawbacks to using a Dialogue Declaration are that your characters are what are going to matter most. If the reader hates your characters, they will be turned off, even if the story is about your character developing. 

In the end, the beginning sentence is completely up to you, and its all up to your own creativity and writing style. So, with the knowledge I have given you go out! Write! And remember, everything here is my own experience and my own knowledge. I don't claim to be all knowledgable; this is my advice to you. Take from it what you will. 

Now, off! Write! Try them out! 


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Posted 7 Years Ago

Nice job, I love this.
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Added on January 22, 2011
Last Updated on January 22, 2011
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Cassandra L K
Cassandra L K

Toronto, ON, Canada

I've always wanted to be a colour, or something else non-material entity, like wind, or emotions, just to see what it was like. We use colours as metaphors, we throw around emotions freely, so, just f..