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Starting with a Bang: How to Write the Perfect Opening Line of Your Novel

Closeup of a Typewriter Page with ‘Write Something’ Typed on itHave you ever started a novel hoping it’ll put you to sleep, only to burn the midnight oil well into the early morning hours? A book may not be judged by its cover, but it sure is binge-read by a killer opening line.

Here’s how you too can ace the first sentence when writing action-adventure or historical fiction.

Open with Dialogue

Opening your novel with dialogue, especially one your readers would least expect from that work of fiction, can be a great way to retain their attention long enough to keep them reading.

For instance, “Oh my! You’re a pretty o’ thang, aren’t you?” can tell the reader so much about the geographical location, context, and speaker. Just make two things sure here:

A Faceless Female Holding a Coffee Mug and Reading a Book Beyond the Halfway-Mark

Show Your Hand

Holding back on your readers can lead to a great payoff or frustrate them to the point where they would DNF your book or skip ahead to read the spoiler. Make sure the latter doesn’t come about by laying all your cards (read characters) on the table from the get-go.

Take The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis as an example. That book starts with,

“Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmond, and Lucy. This story is about something that happened to them when they were sent away from London during the war because of the air-raids.”

Right from the get-go, the readers are made aware of the characters central to the story and how they’ll be affected as the story progresses without giving away any spoilers. Clear, concise, and right up your alley.

Start from the End

Many readers read the last page to decide if the ending is intriguing enough to check out the lead-up. While giving away the ending would be too much information, you can start your novel with a turning point.

Show your main character facing a life-or-death situation like an execution or kidnapping, and then start right from the beginning. Moving on, you could alternate your lead-up chapters with the character’s current predicament to keep the readers’ attention.

Pick Up a Good Historical Fiction Book for More Ideas

Writing historical fiction is not something you should ever take lightly. There’s plenty of room to go wrong, which is why you should take a page from the best historical fiction out there, starting with the works of Joseph Woodward.

The award-winning storyteller has had quite a few tales to tell so far, from the action-packed thriller Back Running to biographical historical fiction such as The Three Husbands of Annabelle and more.

Get in touch with the Amazon author for pointers on writing opening lines.

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