Your First Sentence in EVERY Chapter

We all know that the first sentence or two in a novel needs to, not only grab a reader’s attention, but flip them out of bed, melt them into their recliners, or make them forget the lasagne in the oven.

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Like you, I’ve written so many first lines for my novels, I could add them up and the page count would be the same as the novel itself.

They, editors, agents, writing experts say:

Make it more engaging.

Don’t start with dialogue and  (read more) 

So, let’s say, we finally think our first line of the entire novel kicks butt. We breathe. All good, right?

Yeah, but…

How are the last sentences of the first chapter, the seventh or thirty-seventh?

Let’s say the endings of your chapters follow “the rules” and beg the reader to continue on. In other words, we’ve got them hooked.

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Here’s another point. Let’s say our readers close the book at the end of chapter ten, and it’s a couple of days before they can get back to the story. Will they remember what’s going on when they open to page eleven or will they have to flip back some pages to be reminded?

That in itself is not terribly important. However …

Are your beginning sentences in other chapters as good at the first?  Are they close? Ponder and consider. I think beginning sentences in all chapters are important. Think of the reader in a book store trying to decide what book to buy.  They randomly flip to the beginning of chapter three and find something like, “She got dressed and left her apartment.” Boring.

What do you want the reader to feel?

This?

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Or, this?

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When I checked my WIP, The Moonshine Thicket, I was happy with the ending sentences in my chapters. I had paid more attention to them.

But when I checked beginning sentences of other chapters? I felt like this…

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So I made some changes.

Old: “We eat a quiet supper in the Hutchings’ kitchen.”

Revised (for the moment): “Mama had made vegetable soup and cornbread, but we eat slow, like its been over salted. Nobody talks.”

Old: “The surging creek pulls the brute, and my best friend, downstream.”

Revised (for the moment): Four arms flail in the rushing water, their heads bobbing up and down as they disappear downstream. “No, no!” I cry. “Frank!”

As authors, we want to make every sentence perfect. I won’t ever be able to manage that task unless my novel is two pages long.

Still, we struggle for improvement and do the best we can.

Let’s be flawless in our imperfections!

Happy writing!!

-Carolyn

One Comment on “Your First Sentence in EVERY Chapter

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