Share Your First Three Sentences

Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Rumwriter, May 16, 2012.

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How do you start your sentences?

  1. I don't really think about it. It sort of just comes to me.

  2. Little bit of consideration here and there.

  3. I do try and work in some interesting sentence starters.

  4. Sentence starters? That's for the edits.

  5. I don't think 'interesting' sentence starters matter at all.

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  1. saldanamoreno

    saldanamoreno New Member

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    The first three lines of my current wip

    Belfrey was running late for his doctor’s appointment. He left his job in the middle of the day to get there on time. An accident on the highway to downtown was determined to ruin those plans however.

    I don't think it has a lot of pop, it doesn't really set a tone, but I like it.
     
  2. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    Thanks. I was uuming and ahhing over that. I’m trying to keep a strong, first-person narrative voice and didn’t use en route for fear it was too ‘fancy pants’. But you’re right on route is not the expression. I’m pretty certain you’re right with the comma, too, rattan than a full stop,
     
  3. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber <[:>)-|---< Contributor

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    Yeah, that's not a huge deal. They're mostly pronounced the same, aren't they? My main concern was with the period after "festival."
     
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  4. Mark Burton

    Mark Burton Fried Egghead Supporter Contributor

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    All 3 sentences are mundane, in that they describe everyday life. As a reader, there's no reason for me to keep reading. Generally, you want to grab your reader by the throat in the first 3 sentences, wow them into wanting to read further. Create a mystery, set an unusually interesting scene, a quirky character, etc. There are many ways to do it, but reproducing everyday humdrum isn't it.
     
  5. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber <[:>)-|---< Contributor

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    I think in this case the obvious choice is to start with the accident.
     
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  6. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    Even that would be a questionable start if it’s not relevant to the story.
     
  7. Frey

    Frey New Member

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    I have been wrestling with this opening for a while. I've also made a few accounts here, but somehow I keep forgetting the passwords over the years. Anyway...

    …and that is why I tried to kill myself. Julian sank in the corner booth with his open laptop and half a mug on the table. The cold mixture, packed with cream and sugar sat so long, it thickened to that awful gel no one likes to think about.
     
  8. Mark Burton

    Mark Burton Fried Egghead Supporter Contributor

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    I, like many readers, have a mind's eye where I picture the scene an author paints. The trouble with this is I can't fathom how to render the "sank in the corner booth". How does someone sink, onto or into what? Even with those answered, is this painting an emotional state? What's its purpose?

    The third sentence has some promise, but feels like it should be later as it's a nice description. However, it's not gripping the reader, so belongs later.
     
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  9. Urocyon

    Urocyon Member

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    I prefer to start In Media Res, but that's just me. A first sentence is usually too short for anything particularly meaningful to happen. I was going to say what Cogito said, but he beat me to it...

    I will say though, I once picked up a Kindle book and realized the first line was actually duplicated onto the second line. Unfortunately that certainly set the tone for the atrocious editing...
     
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  10. Urocyon

    Urocyon Member

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    Currently my first three lines, probably will change as I'm still early in my first draft:

    It was, the little band found, a decidedly poor night in the forests of Westwaldia. Even above the howling torrent, the clamor of slaughter sounded from Last Bastion, the stench of blood and bile still strong in the nostrils of the fleeing wolves. Such was the lashing rain, the flash of lightning upon their battered armor and the spattering muck from the fury of their pace that the figures were only vaguely aware of each other.
     
  11. OJB

    OJB A Mean Old Man Contributor

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    Cut-out magazine pictures of Paris models covered every inch of every wall and ceiling in the house, but torn photos, taken by family and friends, shards of glass from smashed picture frames, and fragments of broken mirrors covered the floor. Despite her citrine-colored hair, her sapphire eyes, her ruby-lips, and her diamond complexion, Doria Grey found her looks to be poor. Even the pearl necklace and emerald dress she wore added no wealth to her appearance.
     
  12. N.Scott

    N.Scott Active Member

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    I have to say the descriptions are pretty visual. I like how they convey a distressing feel. As a reader, the first sentence has me wanting to know what happened, which is what every writer wants, but then the follow-up slowly drifts away from that tension. At least that's how I feel. By the third sentence, I found myself wondering: is it too many descriptions for the FIRST three lines, and would it be better if they come in small bites across the rest of the scene?
    I hope this makes sense!
     
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  13. Underneath

    Underneath Member

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    Waves crashed upon the cove entrance, spraying foam amidst the morning mist. Jasper sat and watched them. At times he hummed along to the nautical drone, covered by the lowlight that bounced with the tides.
     
  14. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    It’s okay but I don’t care for the alliteration between the words ‘amidst‘ and ‘mist‘.
     
  15. OJB

    OJB A Mean Old Man Contributor

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    An opening needs to do 2 things: Introduce a Character (you did that) and introduce a disturbance (you didn't do that.) The disturbance is often what hooks the reader.
     
  16. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber <[:>)-|---< Contributor

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    But is there a rule that it must be within the first three sentences? I've read many good books that began with three sentences or more of this sort of thing. Beginning with a descriptions of some place is quite common.

    I'm having a little trouble with your prepositions--they don't sound right. Also, "nautical" I think refers not just to the sea, but specifically to sailing and navigating, which is not what is happening here. I would change it. Also, isn't a lowlight a hairstyle thing? Did you mean "low light"?

    "Waves crashed through the cave entrance...with sprays of foam [?] in the morning mist."
     
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  17. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    I agree completely. We’re talking first three sentences here. Pick up any random book, even a classic, and the majority start with a fairly mundane three sentences.

    For that reason I reckon there’d probably be some scope in a First Paragraph thread.
     
  18. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Its been discussed before and it ain't happening... any more than three sentences and it belongs in the workshop as an individual crit thread
     
  19. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    Jeez, just thinking out loud. Calm yourself.
     
  20. OJB

    OJB A Mean Old Man Contributor

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    This is a hard statement to either counter or defend. Some books open with a staging (a description of a setting that either parallels or juxtapositions the emotional state of the character.) Is that what Underneath is attempting here?
     
  21. Underneath

    Underneath Member

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    The disturbance comes in three paragraphs later. On the very first page.

    Rectified:

    Waves crashed through the cove entrance, spraying foam amongst the morning mists. Jasper sat and watched them. At times he hummed along to the oceanic drone, covered by the low-light that bounced with the tides.
     
  22. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Get off my Balzac... Contributor

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    Who wants to rock a "Share your first three words thread?" I'll start:

    The night was....

    #kidding
     
  23. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber <[:>)-|---< Contributor

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    I don't know. I think I agree with you, but your implication that a character and a disturbance should be introduced in the first three sentences doesn't seem quite right.
     
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  24. Underneath

    Underneath Member

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    Bright and calm?
     
  25. Navini

    Navini New Member

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    My current WIP first three sentences:

    After nearly a decade underground, almost everything on the surface was unfamiliar to me: the open sky with its glaring sun, the gently sloping hills dotted by tiny crystal formations, and the dozens of heavily-armed warriors. None of them, not our forces protecting the demonstrators or the local guards, had summoned their weapons yet, but they were all ready to. When the fountain in the centre of the town square exploded, showering both soldiers and civilians with rock and boiling water, that changed.

    Here's the original, which I think is punchier but much worse setting up a scene:


    I stood in a foreign land, avoiding arrows and repelling blasts of magic to help crown a king I didn’t really care about at all. And I’d offered to do it; nothing forced me to stay on the battlefield, and I could just as easily have never set foot on it.
     

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