Ways to Write a Killer First Sentence

It's a writer's worst nightmare. The blank page. Whether you're writing a book, a blog, an article or an essay for school, you can encounter the same problem. You have ideas but you just can't think of a way to get started. You have to grip the reader from the start, and that challenge can be pretty daunting. It might help you to break down what makes a good first sentence.

Dos and Don’ts of Writing a First Sentence

Killer First Sentence

Do Make It Personal
Unless you're writing an academic thesis, bring your personality into your writing. Write in first person. Even better, address your reader directly as “you.” It will draw them in and make them feel a part of what you’re writing, as if you’re speaking directly to them (because you are).
Don't Start with, “This Article is About…”

It should go without saying, but it's an easy trap to fall into when you can’t think of anything to write. You don’t need to tell them what you’re writing about; they’ll be able to figure that out themselves.

Do Make It Relevant
There's nothing more confusing than an opening sentence that doesn't relate to the rest of the piece! Avoid the temptation to slip in your favorite quote or make an observation on a distantly related subject. The first sentence has to set up the whole piece, so make it about the piece.

Don't Ask a Question
Don't you find it really annoying when other writers are always asking questions? Doesn't it make the whole piece jerky and disconnected? Why don't they just stop?

Do Make It Active
It's very awkward construction to write passively. Consider these two sentences: The ball was put on the table by the child. The child put the ball on the table. The second sentence is active. It sounds better and more exciting. Make sure your first sentence isn’t passive.

Don't Make it Too Long and Try to Fit Everything You're Trying to Say In It
This one should speak for itself.

The Essence of a Gripping First Sentence
Try to keep the first sentence in one line. If the space on your blog or article is very thin, this might not be possible. Visually it's much easier on the eye. The reader can take it all in at one time. Try to sum up your article in one sentence of not more than fifteen words. Remember, you don’t need to say everything, you just need to get the essence across. Hold something back to develop in the main article. Try answering two out of the six main questions in your first sentence: who, what, where, when, why, and how. Is there a controversy in your article? Introduce that at the start to make the reader want to know more.

The Bottom Line
Whatever you do, don’t over think it or waste time agonizing. Just write something. You can always go back once you've finished and rewrite it all over again. Sometimes a killer first sentence will become clear to you once you’ve finished the piece, so just dive in.

Photo Credit: deathtiny42

Author About

Akhilesh Sharma maintains and writes Tweak And Trick. He is a technology enthusiast and a science student.
You can contact him at tweakandtrick@gmail.com.

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