#2: The First Line is the Most Important

Which would you start with?

"My mom was an old woman." or "Shush your mouth, boy!"

My bet’s on the second quote, because it grabs attention. That’s what you need to hook people onto your work, and that’s what you should remember when creating content.

It’s an old idea.

We’ve been taught in school that a killer opening makes a good story. Editors exhort writers to make their first lines strong and powerful in magazines and newspapers.

In the online world, it’s the same with much less time. You have 5 seconds to grab people’s attention and 60 seconds to tell your story.

Now every microsecond counts.

What openings work?

I tend to throw readers into the thick of action, also known as In medias res. However this technique doesn’t always work across all genres, and using the same tool too often can blunt storytelling ability.

FuelYourWriting.com suggests using other opening types:

  • Short and snappy
  • Set the tone of the story
  • Raise questions
  • Shock or surprise

They can all be used for online content. But cut, compress, squish and package them to grab attention within 5 seconds. Otherwise, it’s bye bye reader (and $$ for some).

I leave you with the best opening that I’ve ever read…

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.

Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.

She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, 1955.


A day, a tip | 100 days, 100 useful content tips

Tip categories: Create, Source, The Truth, Spread & Be Nice.
Got an idea, opinion or critique?
Please share it with me @skybe077.

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