If you’ve been following me on Instagram (@writerkboe) you may have noticed that I have a love for first sentences. I love the beginning of a story. Of course, I love stories because of the journey they can take me on, but there’s something of an extra zing with a first sentence.
It’s fresh. It’s new. It’s the first few steps in the beginning of a journey into another world.
I also have a fascination with first sentences as a writer. For readers, your first sentence is the first impression of your story. It’s the door into the house that you built, and the reader is looking to buy.
This is why I wanted to start this blog series: First Sentence Musings. I want to explore first sentences, how they introduce the story to the reader, and generally gush over them, because, as you may have noticed, I really like them.
And below, here is our first “first sentence”.
This sentence is the opening to Amy K. Green’s The Prized Girl, a mystery I recently reviewed here. The character speaking is named Virginia, and it is not a surprise to the reader that Virginia’s sister, Jenny is dead, as that was stated in the summary of the book.
So, in a way, Green just dives right into the action. From the first person pronouns, you know that your getting the story from Virginia’s POV, and Green follows this format, first person narrative, throughout the rest of the book, trading in between both Virginia and Jenny.
With first person narrative, it’s interesting how the first sentence can indicate the nature of the voice of the character. From this very first sentence, I, as the reader, got the sense that Virginia was a bit sarcastic, and also over the attention that her sister’s murder was bringing to the town, and her and her family. I also love the little slight against the local newspaper, and how Green lets you know the town is somewhat small in her use of language in the first sentence. If it was bigger, then it wouldn’t have to use large font to cover its front page, because there would be more news to fill the newspaper.
I also like how Green doesn’t feel like she needs to write a long introduction into Virginia or Jenny’s lives in order to introduce the situation of the moment. The past will come into play later. It doesn’t need to be shoved into the reader’s face on the first page.
In this way, I would categorize this first sentence as a “just jumping in” sort of beginning. We’re here, we’re ready to tell the story, let’s do this. Also, you get a sense of the pacing of the novel, sometimes, in how fast the first sentence let’s you know what’s going on. And having read The Prized Girl in two days, I can say that not only was it exciting and a fast read, but the pacing was at a breathless speed, and yet perfect for the type of novel it was.
Have you ever wrote a story where you just jumped in? Write the beginning of a story, and make sure you utilize the first sentence to be right in the middle of the action. Write a few different beginnings, and see how it turns out using different POV’s and writing for different genres. Maybe it will be the beginning of a new story/novel for you!
What first sentences do you recall launched you right into the action? Did you end up liking the rest of the book? Let me know in the comments!