Whatever you’re writing, your first paragraph acts as a ‘Welcome” and as a “hook”. You’re both inviting your readers to get into your work and trying to grab and hold their attention.
Getting the opening right is critical, whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction. Some writers will spend hours and hours getting the first paragraph just so, in order to flow from there into the text. Other writers may make a few notes or rough stabs at the wording, and write it fully after the rest of the work is done. In a way, then, the opening summarizes or highlights the point or points of what the author has written.
One good way to open is to use short punchy sentences. Examples: “It hit me like a bolt out of the blue.” “There’s no easy answer to this problem.” This should make your audience ask, “Tell me more!” Avoid being boring or losing your readers in the opening paragraph.
While the first part of your writing may demonstrate a standard for the quality of your writing, you can’t have just one well-worked paragraph. The rest of your text needs to live up to that standard. Here’s a good test to use in order to look for any weak links in your writing. Pull out any one chapter and read it as a stand-alone work. It should be good, independent of the rest of the work. If it’s not, you may want to rewrite it until it is. This same test might be applied to any paragraph or sentence, but that might become tedious and silly. No part of your text should be a weak link in your writing.
So, always give your first paragraph your best effort; and keep that high standard throughout your work. It will mark you as an author to watch.
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