The first sentence is a powerful weapon. Besides the last sentence, it’s one of the most important ones in the entire novel. Why? It serves as a hook to draw the reader in. A crappy first sentence equals another book to chuck into the garage sale bin.
This is why it is often a good idea to put a lot of thought and love into the patient crafting of your first sentence.
Or, of course, if you’re doing NaNoWriMo, you spend roughly five seconds on the first sentence, pound it out, and move on to Evil Clump of Words In My Way Of Making 50K #2. But still, it’s nice to give it some thought in those five seconds. Is it interesting? Original. Please don’t make it commonplace, a sentence you find in roughly four hundred other books. If your hooking sentence is, “I said ‘Hi'”, say goodbye to your readers. (And don’t have that as your first line either. Although saying goodbye is more intriguing than saying hello. Why is the character leaving? Why… oh shoot, I’m getting distracted.)
So anyway, if you’re an aspiring novelist, feel free to post your first sentence here. If you’re a NaNoer, even better. Here’s mine from this year’s NaNo:
Even when you lived in Paradise, some people just wouldn’t shut up.
There we have the odd idea of living in Paradise, and the coming conflict as the main character brutally attacks whoever won’t shut up. At least, that’s what I would do. It’ s lucky my characters are more mellow.
Anyway, I really hope you’re past your first sentence by now, but it can’t hurt to look back on it in December and fix it up. Until then, happy writing.
PS: Never ever ever ever start your novel with the phrase ‘It was a dark and stormy night’ unless it’s a parody. Please. Think of the children.