But it seems we've reconciled our differences, and are here now with a belated giveaway.
So. Opening sentences. I talked briefly about them last time, and truth be told, I could spend a heck of a lot more time yattering on about my favorite first lines of stories, and why/how they drew me in. And it is all I can do to restrain myself from quoting nine or ten openings now. (It doesn't count if I just say the title of the book and don't actually quote it, right? It doesn't. Labor Day, by Joyce Maynard). (And Matilda, by Roald Dahl). (And Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card. ...Okay, I'm stopping.)
But there are reasons far more important than "because I like them" to work on a gripping, strong, intriguing opening.
"A practical fact: If you don't capture the editor's interest at the beginning of a book, it's unlikely you will have that editor's attention for the rest of the book. At the most, you've got two or three pages to hook the reader. That is a writer's reality, especially a first-time writer's reality.
It won't matter that pages 10 to 160 of your middle-grade novel are some of the most awesome and compelling ever written in the annals of children's literature. Chances are those pages won't be read as long as they are preceded by a weak beginning."--Nancy Lamb, The Writer's Guide to Crafting Stories for Children.
Most of the assistants and agents I know glance at the first few pages of a manuscript when it arrives in their inbox/on their desk. When those pages are polished, have a strong voice, and have an interesting set-up, the manuscript becomes much harder to put down. One of my favorite things to hear is that an agent/editor started to flip through such-and-such manuscript, and got so sucked in by those opening pages that they couldn't stop reading, and stayed late at work finishing the entire thing. It happens; and it gets talked about afterwards.
The Writer's Guide to Crafting Stories for Children is insightful and entertaining, and covers everything from fantastic openings to plotting to the mid-story crisis. And it is about to become a very valuable addition to someone's bookshelf.
Since Lamb's book is geared toward stories for the 4-14 crowd (though her advice certainly applies to older age groups as well), today's giveaway is similarly centered. In 100 words or less, write the opening sentence(s) to a children's/middle grade/YA story, and post it in the comments. Have your entry in by the end of the day Wednesday. A winner will be chosen and announced on Friday.