Top tips for writing the perfect first line for your novel
Writing the opening line of your novel can feel daunting and for good reason- if you don’t get it right your reader is unlikely to keep going.
You need to hook your reader. You need to draw them into your story. And you need signpost where you are headed. It’s no easy task but hopefully these tips will help nail your opening and keep your reader turning the pages
- Start with a Statement
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” – Pride and Prejudice
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” – Anna Karenina
Both these novels use statements to open their stories and set a mood and theme for the rest of the narrative. What’s interesting about them is that the authors each make a controversial comment about seemingly uncontroversial facts to make them striking and interesting.
- Say Something Surprising
Many of the most famous novels have opening lines that are surprising. For example:
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” – 1984
What a genius way to show the reader they are entering a world where something is rather wrong.
And how about-
“Marley was dead: to begin with.” – A Christmas Carol
-which creates intrigue and suspense brilliantly.
- Encapsulate your whole novel in the opening line
“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.” – The Metamorphosis
In this one sentence Kafka shows us Samsa’s entire journey.
Writing the perfect opening line isn’t easy. It takes time to craft and you may come up with a line only to discard it for something better along the way. But don’t give up. When you find the right one you’ll know- and so will your reader.