The First Word is the Hardest

I saw a graphic the other day that reflected what I think is a common struggle for authors of genre fiction: Writing that first line.


Speaking for myself, I want line one of the book (and each chapter) to pack a punch, to carry emotional weight while also inviting the reader to “come on in and stay a while.” Conjuring up such a multi-purpose opener can be a real challenge. That’s one of the reasons why I marvel at some of the opening lines written by my favorite authors.

“I sat in the back pew and watched the only woman I would ever love marry another man.” — Six Years by Harlan Coben

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” — Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” — Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 

Each one of those lines issues that invitation, beckoning the reader to come along for what promises to be an interesting and emotional ride. As a reader I’m immediately hooked. As a writer I appreciate the brilliance that went into creating such hooks, and I’m inspired (and wish some of that brilliance would rub off on me!).

So, as I stare at a blinking cursor below a new chapter header, I can truthfully echo the sentiment that the first word can be the hardest. Oh, and freely admit that the last two words of a book (The End) are my favorite to write. Until that happens on the final page of Dogs, Lies, and Alibis (Working Stiffs Mystery #5), you won’t hear much from me online or on this website. But I do appreciate your visit and hope that you enjoy your summer. Be sure to use your sunscreen! (Yes, Mom.) Also, check back in August and/or sign up for my newsletter for book release news.