Friday, June 11, 2010

Questions about Beginnings (part 1 of 9)

What’s so important about how we start an article or a book? I can give the answer in one sentence: We must earn the right to be read. It’s that simple; it’s also that difficult.

For me, the most difficult part of any piece is the first sentence. If readers don't like the invitation to read, they'll close the book or click on a different site.

All of us have different methods of writing, but here's my one immutable rule: I don't start writing a manuscript until I know the first sentence. I may edit those words and change the structure of the opening paragraph five times, but I know where I want to start.

If I know where to begin I can plan where I want to go and how I'll get there.
I rewrite those first words more than anything else. For example, I’ve already rewritten the first sentence of this blog entry six times and I may revise it again before I finish.

Good writers earn the right to be read.


  1. How true! Wise words today Cec!

    Have a blessed day,

  2. And that is my struggle...every day!!! Thank you so much for those words.. God blessed you,


  3. Do you often start with a question, Cec? How do you know when you've found the perfect opening?

    Have you read Noah Lukeman's book, The First Five Pages? He emphasizes the importance of starting strong.

    Thanks for your wisdom,

  4. Why not? That's in answer to Jeanette's question. If a question works, use it. I once started a book on health/fitness with a question: How long do you want to live?

    My suggestion: Use what fits the purpose/tone of your manuscript. Some writers seem to think a clever question is the way to start a manuscript. A question may detract.
    Instead, ask yourself: What is the best way to start this piece so that others will want to read it. (I rarely start with a question.)


  5. I get stuck on the first sentence & think I can't move forward. It becomes an insurmountable road block. I tell myself to start in the middle & come back, but that beginning is so crucial to the thought process. Thank you for explaining why!


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