Byron Pitts: Writing a Great Opening Line

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Award-winning Journalist Byron Pitts stopped by Rescue Writing to offer a little support for our young writers.

You will be a little smarter in two minutes, if you watch my video, or read my story.

The secret of writing a story people want to read starts with the first sentence. Tell your reader something they want to know, or need to know. Create mystery or present a problem to solve.

Every story has a beginning, middle and end – when you start from the end, you grab your reader’s attention and take them on the journey with you – and they want to go.

I just said you’d be smarter after watching or reading this – well, that invited you to become a better writer, and since you want to do that, you are watching.

Use verbs – action words to start your story. Let the reader know this story moving and you are inviting them on the ride.

“The fire started at midnight, as the neighbor watched from his kitchen window.”

She was hanging halfway across the canyon when her rope harness began to unravel.”

Action, suspense, intrigue. These are our goals when writing our first sentence. Your reader has to ask themselves, “what happens next?” By writing your story carefully, you take your reader on a journey, and they continue to read your story, and want to know more. The first sentence sets the tone of your story, it invites the reader to read on.

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