I’ll admit that, like many of my countrymen, I’m hooked on American Idol. How could I not be when the show has all the trappings to suck a viewer in: a few underdogs, beautiful people, loads of conflict (involving the judges, contestants, audience and the host), an ever-evolving saga with a guaranteed happy ending… Last Tuesday night’s show featured guest artist Kenny Rogers, who had a lot of good advice for the singers, including one great chestnut that applies to almost every kind of art: Since you need to hook your audience early, you should focus your energies on those first few notes, otherwise they may not stick around to listen to the rest.
We all know the importance of a good hook, but how often do you stop to appreciate the first few lines of a story? Does the opening of your wip chime crystalline or might it make Simon say humiliating things to you on national television?
Here are some of the first “notes” from some of the most popular fiction out there, taken from a wide variety of genres. I’ll focus only on the first 2-3 lines. [Read more…]