It was going to be a story, but …
How to move beyond the bright whiteness of that blank page? I remember words coming from a friend – a writer friend – “Write the first sentence, and only allow yourself to write it once so you have to think long and hard about what follows that sentence and where it will end up and why it should be there – all that, in your head, before you write it.”
The nuance of what the first sentence means to the whole of the story, the power it needs to evoke and convince and hook and drag – how can I do that?
This story is about what? Yes, answer that, find out what the journey is. Is it an internal, emotional journey? Is it an adventure story about how she does this or that? What does she learn along the way? What does she find? Gain? Who does she meet? A mentor? A judge? A brother/sister/mother/father figure? Is it about redemption? Family values? Love? Loss?
One sentence, at the beginning of the story, is the power of the whole story. It must deliver the emotional connection, and outline the context of what follows; it is the opening gambit in the game of life. This single piece of exposition with words must be the most powerful thing the reader has set eyes on today. Or it sinks.
Do we start with: It was a dark and stormy night. No; for a start, it’s not night and it’s not dark and it’s not stormy. I love dark and stormy nights and they don’t bring fear or tension into a story anyway, so …
I know, a bit of drama! How about: Barely a minute to go, and she’d know … But I can’t think what to put next. It has to be enough to show the context, and maybe even a hint of theme, as well as a good dose of interest – and it doesn’t, does it?
So, along with drama it needs to have something … more.
One more minute and she’d be dead.
Good enough, but what’s missing? Lots of stuff. Drama, yes, that’s there, but where’s the context? Where’s the rest of the things that entice a reader? Invisible. Will it lead onto the next sentence? Only for some, the ones who want to know if she did die. Are those readers looking for mystery? Crime? True or Dark Crime? Detective? Etc, etc, etc.
If it had been one more minute, she’d have drowned, and not a single person in the world would have known.
Closer, but no cigar yet.
Long fingers of weed trapped her legs, held her under the surface – but she saw the face, that face, and she knew that if she stayed where she was, stuck under this suffocating weight of water, she’d die, and no one would know, and no one would care – and that was something she had to change before it was too late.
Will that do? Would you want to read on? What do you think the story genre for this sentence is?
Copyright 2017 5bay514u.
Yes, I know – get rid of all the pronouns, but as an idea for a first sentence it’s okay.