It was a dark and stormy writing book

Writers and aspiring writers know the first sentence is where they should deploy their freshest bait, their best pickup lines and, when all else fails, their most irrefutable strong-arm tactics.

20789862_b9c013396b.jpgWhether it’s seduction, fishing, or just grabbing them by the lapels, first sentences succeed when they lead readers to the second sentence. This holds true for novels, short stories, newspaper articles, letters, news releases, magazine features, essays, works of non-fiction, backs of cereal boxes and ransom notes.

OK. Maybe you’d read the entire ransom note regardless of the quality of its first sentence. Assuming it’s to do with someone you care about. But everything else needs to be compelling enough to draw you in.

Which is why I find most of the examples that follow a little disappointing. They are the first sentences in books about the craft of fiction writing — some by reasonably well-known authors, others not so well-known at all.

Have a look at these five and see which inspire you to run out and read their writing books or, better still, their works of fiction.

You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t want to write, so let’s write.

There are three points of view from which a writer can be considered: he may be considered as a storyteller, as a teacher, and as an enchanter.

I have listened to smart, well-educated people talk in circles, obsessively, even angrily, on the subject of the distinction between fiction and non-fiction.

The sound of the language is where it all begins and what it all comes back to.

To teach creative writing, or to be taught it, is a paradox.

Hmm….some of these sound like tough-sledding, don’t they? It’s unfortunate because they are all quite respectable writers with valuable insights to share. Is it too much to want them to communicate a little passion for something they’ve devoted their lives to?

Shouldn’t their first sentences be lit fuses?

Feel free to share your own examples — good, bad or tough-sledding.

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