We all know the first line of a book is critical. It must capture—and hold—the interest of a potential reader, must make that person want to buy the book. First impressions do count, especially with “strangers”—like acquiring editors, agents, and readers not already your fans. You can kill a sale by a lackluster beginning. Make the first sentence—and then the whole first page—something that reaches out and grabs the reader by the throat, dragging them into the story. Here are some first sentences that made me buy the book:
The night I died, I was wrestling a garbage can to the curb.
The face of the dead medium was a ghostly blur beneath the bloodstained wedding veil.
Prince Henrik was a frog. It wasn’t his idea, but he was one.
When Lorcan O’Halloran, four-thousand-year-old vampire and professed Druid, fell at my feet, it wasn’t to beg forgiveness for killing me three months ago.
“Watch out for the elves, Simon.”
I hate raising the dead on a work night.
“Oh, look, a crop circle. Let’s stop and see if we will be abducted by aliens.”
Oh, and don’t neglect the potential of short and catchy front matter, if it fits your story.
“WARNING: This is a bawdy tale. Herein you will find gratuitous shagging, murder, spanking, maiming, treason, and heretofore unexplored heights of vulgarity and profanity, as well as non-traditional grammar, split infinitives, and the odd wank.”
(Personally, I can tolerate all of that except the non-traditional grammar.)