Wednesday, April 6, 2011

More than the Hook: Your Opening Line

Unpubbed authors on the query hunt want to hook an agent or editor. It's no secret. So, that hook, whether it be a Twitter pitch, elevator pitch, or opening of your query is vital. We all know it, but what about the opening of your manuscript? Chances are if you snag the agent/editor with your pitch, the person is going to request more. The first line, first paragraph, first page, and heck the whole manuscript have to be as enticing as possible. Today, I want to focus on that opening line. The one that you want so juicy, it has the reader begging for more.
I'm a dialogue lover, so my opening lines tend to either open with it or come shortly after the opening. Although, it isn't a steadfast rule. The most important part of any opening for me is intrigue. I want to capture the reader and give them something to think about.

Here's some opening lines from my recent works...

BLOOD BOND co-written with Yelena Casale (not exactly one line, but the next two sentences frame it):

    "There’s no flipping way I’m going in there!" Cassie planted her feet and locked her arms against the doorframe. "Do you hear what I’m saying, Zoey?"

NIGHT WATCH (titled to be changed)

     Sera stared down at her fingernails, picking off the chipped red paint and wondering how in the hell to interview a murder victim’s sister.

What are your thoughts on opening lines? What do you focus on to capture your audience? Care to share? Paste your opening in the comments section below.


  1. "So where was a girl supposed to look when she needed tips and pointers for killing her dad?"
    That's the first sentence of the first draft of TMD. That stayed till I did my first serious edit and ditched the first four chapters of its protagonist sitting around thinking. (Seriously!)

    From my current WIP:
    "Dead. All dead. If I had listened to her, I would be dead, too." The end of that first chapter revisits the thought, with a slight but important addition.

  2. So true. I'm considering a few variation on the first line of my WIP right now. The way it's written now, it's a line of a dialogue. But I'm not sure I'm going to go with it yet.

  3. Deb, I love your opening to the first chapter of your WIP, btw!

  4. Thanks for posting, Deb. I love the opening of your current WIP. It makes me wonder... Whose dead? Who didn't the MC listen to? Why would she be dead too? Nice job!

    Yelena, put up your variations. Let's see 'em! :D