One thing most writing instructors agree on is that a novel opening needs to hook readers into the story. That particular something that claims a reader’s attention can be in the first sentence, paragraph, page.
Below are five unpublished novel openings — approximately the first one hundred words — for your consideration. Which ones hook you? Why or why not?
Please note, you can vote for as many or as few as you wish. Comments aren’t mandatory, but are really helpful and give us a basis of understanding what you as a reader see in these openings and what grabs your attention.
In no special order, the first five openings of all those submitted:
The autumn foliage burns like a fire in my eyes. “Shut up, Joshua!”
“Please, just listen to me. “ He grabs my wrist.
“Which lecture will it be this time? This-is-wrong? The-bad-outcomes? You-know-better?” I try to pull away; his hands, though gnarled and spotted with age, are still strong enough to crush my thin wrists.
“Séipéal, I remember when you would raise your hand during the service to smilingly correct the pastor’s reference. I remember when you would babble on in class and somehow make sense of it like a firework exploding to dazzle our eyes”
In an ordinary house in an ordinary neighborhood, late at night, a small boy slept in his bed, one arm thrown across a large stuffed rabbit.
The window slid open, and a black-clad figure slipped into the room. The figure paused for a moment, listening. The house was quiet.
The assassin crossed the room in three strides and stood over the bed, drawing a long knife from a sheath at its thigh. Then the assassin pulled back the quilt and gazed down at the boy and his stuffed rabbit. The child slept on, unaware of his danger.
Trouble was glaring at him from across the open sparring grounds. Varian stopped writing his entry in the match-book and watched the young nobleman approach.
Kiffor Angleson nodded to him, his lips set in a thin line. “Signing up for the tourney?”
“Sword-sparrin’,” Varian answered. He finished his scrawl and tossed down a quarter bit of gold.
“Thank you.” The man running the table scooped the coin into the till. “Next? You signing up, young man?”
Kiffor shouldered into Varian as he stepped up to the table.
Varian bit his tongue and held it as he stepped into a clear space.
He didn’t kill her.
I bend down and run my stave over the ground. Pause for a moment. Almost midnight, and I haven’t come nearly far enough yet. I hear only the familiar night sounds around me. No pursuit. Yet.
I run again. The grass brushes against my bare legs and I want to kick the cumbersome boots off my blinded feet. They slide with every step, ill fitted as the worries running through my head. Nathan is not a murderer… not really… not intentionally.
I flinch back from unwanted questions. I would stake my life on his innocence.
Maybe I am.
Today the world lay quiet. The sun broke over the hills breaking the deep darkness with harsh yellows and reds against the bare grey earth. As the darkness lifted, a shadow could be seen silhouetted against the mist that covered the ground. The silhouette was that of a man standing alone in a meadow long dead. Boaz stood searching for something. The uneven ground had been trampled by the feet of the good and the bad, feed by the blood of the righteous and the unclean. Today there was no battle, the ground did not shake with the turmoil of war.
I learned from the poll on my site that some readers want a “None of these” choice, so I’ll include that as Choice F.
Have fun with this. And please don’t forget, these openings represent someone’s heart and soul. Well, that might be a little melodramatic. 😉 But they do represent someone’s hard work.
The poll will close midnight (PDT) next Sunday.