Wednesday, April 17, 2013


When it comes to writing books, every part is the most important. You can’t focus too much on any one area, but instead need to make it a strong whole. However, in terms of reading a book, a good argument can be made that the opening sentence may be the most important.

Why? Because that’s what has to reel the readers in. Once the book has hooked them, it’s certainly
important that it be good. But if they aren’t hooked from the start, it doesn’t matter how phenomenal the rest of the story is because they probably won’t be reading it.

A few months ago, I pulled some books at random from my shelves and looked at only the first sentences. It was interesting to see what made me want to read more and what fell a little flat for me.

So, let’s look at few more. The main question is, if I knew nothing about these books but their first sentences, would I opt to read on?

Incarnate (Jodi Meadows)

“I wasn’t reborn.”

What in the world does that mean? It’s got to be important if it’s the first thing she’s saying, right? What does it mean?!? I would read on.

Man in the Empty Suit  (Sean Ferrell)

“It is unfortunate for me that I am, by most any objective measure, a genius.”

I absolutely want to read more. Most of the time when you read “genius” it’s being discussed in a positive light. So, why is it so unfortunate for this man?

False Memory  (Dan Krokos)

“In the food court I find a mall cop leaning against a pillar.”

In just thirteen words I have a solid picture of where this scene is taking place. More than that though, I have a question I want answered. Why was the narrator looking for a cop? Reading on.

Enchanted, Inc. (Shanna Swendson)

“I’d always heard that New York City was weird, but I had no idea just how weird until I got here.”

This one isn’t as attention grabbing as some others, though it does have me asking what kind of weirdness she’s talking about. So, I would probably read at least another couple paragraphs from here. That being said, if the weirdness wasn’t unique or truly strange, the story might lose me.

Animorphs: The Invasion (K. A. Applegate)

“My name is Jake.”

Animorphs was one of my absolute favorite series growing up. However, if I knew nothing about the story but the first line, this probably wouldn’t be pulling me in.

How about you? Would you read these books based solely on their first sentences?


  1. Just stopping by for the A-Z Challenge. Please check us out and sign up to follow if you like what you see. Juliet atCity Muse Country Muse

  2. For me, it's not so much about the first line as it is about the first few lines or paragraph or even first page. I love a great first line but I'm willing to be wooed and don't necessarily have to be swept off my feet. :)

  3. first sentences are important but i usually give a book one chapter, if i can make it through the first chapter without wanting to put the book down chances are im gonna like it. i do have a stack of books that i've started to read a few dozen times and cant get myself through the first few pages...maybe i'll read them one day but chances are a bit slim