Punch it!

Here’s some writerly advice that some of us seem to be handing out a lot lately: punch up that beginning!

Rob Chilson talks about the three rules of the first page. They are:

  • Shoot the sheriff on the first page;
  • Grab your reader by the nose;
  • Give your reader somewhere to stand.

That is, you’ve only got a few sentences—perhaps only a few words—to get your reader’s attention. So you can’t wait for chapter 2, or even page 2, to get the plot going or to let your reader know what’s going on, and to start the action. All that has to happen right up front.

It’s not easy. But it is essential. Power up that opening sentence. Make the opening paragraph grab that nose. And maybe your reader will agree to enter your world with you, and read the rest of your words.

But first those words have to sing. And be punchy.


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