Elliot Chan’s vlog on writing a good first sentence for a novel
“When technology fell, the catastrophe threatened human existence.”
That is the first sentence of my epic trilogy. It won’t be forever, but it has been for a while now. It’s not great. There are many areas to improve.
But during the first draft, I wanted to simply get my idea on paper. The first sentence, if I over thought it, could have caused me to hesitate enough that I wouldn’t even start. In the beginning, I wouldn’t worry about the quality of the first sentence, I simply needed to start.
However, during the editing phase that is where I can go back, look at the first sentence and ask myself: is this a good first impression for my readers?
In this episode of The Other Epic Story Vlog, I took a look at the first line writing resources and examples from classic and contemporary works. Then I returned to my attempt at a first sentence and gave it my best crack.
I wanted to dig deeper. The words like “technology,” “catastrophe,” and “threatened” in my mind, were all weak, vague words. The kind of words a writer chooses to use when he or she is just kicking off. It’s a tell, not show sentence. I could do better.
“The last message sent digitally was to let everyone beyond the border know that there was still hope.”
This above is my updated first sentence. It encapsulates the same idea. The fallout of technology and the realization of our dependency upon it. I feel it has a bit more umph!
There are many sentences in a novel, but if my work is ever to be a classic, attention to the first one is important. So there it is… now onto the next one.
Reposted from Elliot Chan’s website.