1. Nikita88
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    Nikita88 Member

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    I hate first sentences!

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Nikita88, May 17, 2009.

    Does anyone else have this problem? I usually take a week or two to put down a chapter title and a first sentence, and then I'm golden to write nonstop for hours until the first draft of the chapter is complete. But it takes me WEEKS to put down that first sentence! It's never even a good sentence, more just having to get started...

    BLAH! I wasted the whole day
     
  2. psyence53
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    psyence53 Senior Member

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    One of the biggest factors (i like to believe) in my never writing anything (much) is that blasted first sentence.

    Or lack of one.
    Nothing is good enough. (If anything even TRIES to come up ¬¬)
     
  3. Agreen
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    Agreen Faceless Man Contributor

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    The first sentence is actually my favourite part, it's what comes after that takes forever.

    With the first sentence, I try to think of something- whether an expression, thought or image that sets the mood and direction for the chapter and generates interest. If you're having trouble, maybe just start working on it, see what comes out and then put the ideal first sentence in later.
     
  4. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    When in doubt, I start the chapter with dialogue. Most of the time I haven't had any difficulty though. I usually start the chapter with narration of some point. If time has passed since the end of the last chapter, I give a brief summary of whats going on. Sometimes I start the chapter with an abstract internal thought of the main character regarding something that is going on with the story. Other times I start it with a strong point that will be addressed in the chapter.

    Don't stress on it. Just start writing. It's all going to get re-written in the end anyway. You can always work on that first sentence later. :)
     
  5. seije
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    seije Member

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    skip it and come back to it later. If you have an idea of what you want to write about, jump right into it, even if it's mid-thought. once you've got your creative juices flowing, then go back and see if you can come p with a first sentence. If you can't, don't worry too much about it. in the editing process, you'll probably end up changing it a bunch anyways.

    as for advice on how to come up with one when you get to that point, i've always been a fan of dialogue that makes you wonder what's going on-

    "I didn't realize a paperclip could be so deadly."

    Or, something mysterious being described.

    The figure stood tall and silent, ignoring the icy rain that was drenching him to the bone.

    from there it's easy to leap off into a description of the scene, or even to continue with the action and save the setting for later.
     
  6. SapphireJay
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    SapphireJay New Member

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    I love first sentences. They come really easy to me, so it's really fun. Dialogue, action, senses, fact or shocking statements make up good, and simple first sentences.

    The hard part for me is the last sentence of the chapter. I don't really know where to stop, and I have to think really hard on which kind of sentence will make the reader want to read the next chapter.
     
  7. JGraham
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    JGraham Senior Member

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    I like the first sentences as well. It is just fun to be able to start a new chapter in a completely different way. Surprising people or drawing them in, all things are capable with a first sentence, and it always gets the readers full attention.
     
  8. Silver Random
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    Silver Random Senior Member

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    I have this problem too...

    The closer it gets to the beginning, the more trouble I have. Starting off chapter 1 takes me ages, and introducing a new POV or storyline for the first time can leave me for weeks with a blank page. Until I eventually just decide to start writing, no matter how bad the first sentence feels, and hopefully come back and edit the beginning later. I don't usually have the same trouble for starting later chapters, though I still don't always find it too easy to write the first sentence of a new scene.
     
  9. Nightsong
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    Nightsong Member

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    Sometimes they're hard for me, and other times their not. I guess it really depends on the circumstance.

    Personally, I prefer first sentences to be rather concise, yet meaningful. I'm not good at starting out with dialoge, but I don't have anything against reading pieces that do.
     
  10. Dr. Doctor
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    Dr. Doctor Contributing Member

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    I find that the first sentence is a lot of fun to write. It's challenging because you always want to have the best opening sentence possible - or I do at least - to hook people in and establish a unique ground on which your story can blossom.

    Where I seem to be getting stuck lately is actually writing a long story, it's taken a tremendous effort, especially with how busy I am. I worry about my writing becoming boring after so long.
     
  11. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    I like first lines and I do them well. Sometimes I have to work hard to make the scene live up to the promise of that first line. One of my favorites of mine was, "The chaplain spoke of ashes and dust."
     
  12. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I never have that problem because I just put down a temorary title and sentence, knowing that I will change it. I most always end up completely rewriting the first chapter or at least the beginning of the first chater anyway.
     
  13. lilix morgan
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    lilix morgan Contributing Member

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    I completely understand! It's like you know what you want to write in your new chapter, but that first sentence just KILLS you. It takes forever to manifest in your noggin. And then when you think you FINALLY got it, bam, it sucks. >.<
     
  14. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you can't find your opening sentence, then that means you can't really picture the scene, because, and I'm sure this is already mentioned, a first sentence is really easy. You take one of the more grabbing facets of your scene and translate it into a line and there you go, a starter for your elaborate meal.

    And if the portugese sardines aren't to your liking, you can always order the haloumi cheese on your rewrite
     
  15. shellabella27
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    shellabella27 New Member

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    I too love the first sentence. I love being able to put down a few little words to draw the reader in so they want to read on :) Though in my uni days I used to spend days and days struggling to come up with the first sentences for my essays :p For some reason with my writing it comes easily!
     
  16. PS Foster
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    PS Foster Member

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    I can always think up good first sentences, it's the rest that eludes me.
     
  17. Aenigma
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    Aenigma New Member

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    I occasionally have difficulty with finding the perfect first sentence. Though most of the time I have no problem at all because I know how I want to grab the reader's attention and I have a scene already outlined.
     
  18. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Keep in mind that polishing up the opening sentence/paragraph/scene is a finishing touch. You do not have to nail it down before you move on into the meat of the story. Juts put down the best start you can at the time, and keep your mind open for improvments as you work on the rest of the story.
     
  19. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    Try writing the second--or fiftieth sentence (first), instead.

    I'm not trying to flip, really. But since you tie your "first sentence" to writing the chapter title (also before you've written the chapter), I'm suggesting instead that maybe you're placing unrealistic significance upon "first-ness," or sequencing your writing in some rigid way. While your story will be sequenced in some fashion or other (when you finish it), your writing need not follow that same trajectory.

    I attended a book signing by Joyce Carol Oates where she made it perfectly clear that she never knew till she got to her writing desk and actually began writing, just where in her story she'd be focusing next.
     
  20. OrdinaryJoe
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    OrdinaryJoe Member

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    Okay, I'm going to write... Here it comes... Any second now... I know it's in there... Dear god, I can't do this... What makes me think I'll ever be good at this, I can't even write a beginning... Dam my lack of creativity... A two year old could do better... Well, I guess that's not too bad... Hey, I kind of like this... Yeah, this is working... Man, that's it... I rule!

    So in other words, yes, I hate the first words or sentence, but after fighting my way through, it does get easier...Until the end of the chapter.
     
  21. Anir
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    Anir Senior Member

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    Actually, I think in first sentences. The idea for a story will pop into my head as a first sentence, like: "Ember was born on a stormy night in the dead of winter." Now, I have no idea what the heck I'm talking about, but I roll with it and before I know it, I have a whole world spreading out before me, all because of that one first sentence. However, it is difficult to know what's going on from that one sentence, so that's where I put my mind to work.

    However, on the other hand, when I am trying to think of a first sentence, it usually eludes me. I got stuck on a chapter for months because I couldn't think of how to start it. When I finally did start it, it came pretty easily.
     
  22. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I too understand your dismay and trepidation, I too hated and feared the first line, for a while. Not anymore, and why? Because I have turned my weakness into a strength.

    I once read an article in a creative magazine about first lines. I'll sum it up and give you the lesson of it to save you from boredom. Imagine being in line in front of a cahier at a retail store. Someone behind you says something to someone that they're chatting with that sounds so odd, shocking, or bizzare that it causes you to turn around, just to look at whoever said it. An effect like this pulls you in to their private conversation and world, and that is what you must do as a writer. You have a story to tell, your job is to grab their attention and make them want to listen. Its the old 'hook' that entertainers have been using since entertainment began.

    A great way to start a story is with a hook that digs in and that pulls a reader in. Dialougue is good for that, but narrative or prose could work too.

    "You have three seconds to hand over the cash, before I plaster your no good butt with bullets from my Tommy gun. One---"(corny, but in-your-face gritty pulp fiction type stuff like from a pulpy dime crime novel. Pulp fiction sold generally well in its day, it engaged the readers with simple but entertaining characters and cliffhanging perilous situations and threatening statements. That hook is a combo cliffhanger and conflict-from-an-protagonists dialogue. It makes the reader think 'who has a gun, who is he talking to, will they hand over the cash, does he count to three, what happens then?)

    I had nowhere to run to, all I could do was hide. Through the pitch black I saw the spark of a match and a flame hover towards me. They were coming for me, and now I would have to---(makes the reader identify with the narrator as the storyteller and feel their anxiety to create suspense...gasp!)

    Devon's car spun wildly to and fro as it slid through the oil. It fishtailed violently, he fought to regain control. Using expert driving skills and keen eye and hand coordination, he got his vehiclke back on course. Shining his high beams on the road to spot the next deadly trap, Devon felt confident and back in control of the situation. He peered through the misty windshield, but completely missed the opportunity to see the spike strip that had been laid out before him---(narrator is an outside omniscient voice that sees what the antagonists cant. Its like when in a horror movie you scream at the hero who cant see the hacker hiding behind the sofa, you want to tell Devon to watch out but cant, builds frustration. Give the character the illusion of safety and control and then take it away, it gives you a knee jerk.:p)

    Just be aware that the first line is not just an integral part of the sory, its probably THE most important part (besides the end), and the way its written and read affects the whole piece. Write it accordingly well.

    Now, if only I could always practice what I preach! Not all of my stories have hooking beginnings, just the ones I wrote after reading that article:p
    It helps, recommend it.
     
  23. AngeloBraxton
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    I love the first sentence. I write an entire paragraph to set the mood of the book and then hide it somewhere in the story later on.
     
  24. Romendacil
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    Romendacil Member

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    I have taken a different approach to first sentences.

    I don't give a damn anymore. ;)

    Understatement is the key, I think. You can't give more with one sentence than you can with one sentence. Doesn't matter if it's in the middle pages of your book or at the very beginning. There are very few books where you can truly remember the first line. And even those usually are extremely simple.
    "The hobbit lived in a hole"
    or whatever it was. :redface:

    I'd say - go with your instincts.
     

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