That Elusive and Important First Line…

I don’t have time to write a long post, but I have a question for you, my dear readers. In re-writing the beginning of my memoir, I am trying to decide on a first line. Will you let me know which of the following lines you find more compelling?

  1. A light rain fell as the procession wove its way up the narrow lane to the cemetery, where each horse halted at the next available slot by the hitching post.
  2. The day of my mother’s funeral, I bought myself an Amish bonnet.

Thank you in advance for your help. I’ll be back with another short post before departing on our journey on Saturday.

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33 thoughts on “That Elusive and Important First Line…”

  1. Knowing the content of your first two books, definitely #2. Without knowing that, it isn’t as impacting for me, though might be to someone else.

    Glad to see that you are writing this week!

  2. The first line is evocative, but gives a whole lot less information. I’d go with #2. Puts you right there and brings the reader with you.

  3. Hi Saloma, To me, #2 is almost reflective of something you did that day, then (hopefully) you are going to back track to tell the reader how you got to that action. #1 is a hook for me. But they are both good lines to use.

    Have a great day, and happy writing.

  4. If you are going to write this story chronologically, (hope I’m using the right word here) then #2 would be most appropriate. I have thoughts in my head, but just can’t seem to get them to show themselves LOL! My problem is I’m trying to think this out as a movie (which is how I was taught by my freshman English teacher who inspired my love of reading!) But yes, as weird as it seemed to me at first, #2 is my answer.

  5. Number 1 automatically set the somber tone of the day and brought my imagination to the scene. #2 felt a little short and too matter-of-fact to me.

  6. Wow! Both opening sentences are so seriously good, but having to choose I’d say #2. It’s a fantastic hook for both seasoned readers and anyone new to your story. I’m so glad book #3 is well underway. :-)

  7. Elaine Kenseth

    I’ll weigh in with using both. 1 sets the scene – very captivating, has mood, tone, texture, and is an invitstion to be present in the rain. eith the moving procession moving on a narroe road, the horses…and then the 2nd Sentence do straightforward, a sharp contrast to thr picture just painted – announcing ehat was happening to the writer…all the more potent becsuse of the simplicity involving a mother, a daughter, and death…quite brilliant – so much said in just 2 sentances…

  8. Definitely sentence number two! Number one is a beautiful sentence, although I would take the words “slot by” out of it.

  9. Vanessa Ryder

    Definitely the Amish bonnet. It leaves the reader open to wondering why you bought one when you hadn’t owned one previously (or hadn’t kept the one you had). It is a lead-in sentence. The other option does not elicit a desire to know more. It simply sets the scene.

  10. pamela lakits

    I like #1 best the description of the rain and the weaving of the procession up the road held my attention. However, I could see them both intertwined to some how form one sentence.

  11. Hmmm. #1 put me immediately at the scene. #2 put me immediately in your shoes… Can you find a way to use both?

  12. #2 works best for me as an opening sentence. In today’s world of short attention spans, it grabs the reader right away. I definitely wanted to read more. #1 is also a beautiful sentence, but perhaps you can use it elsewhere – maybe even on the same page?

  13. Yes – just what Gerri said. Don’t discard the first sentence, but put it somewhere else. The second sentence not only grabs attention more quickly, but it also stimulates the reader’s curiosity.

  14. I think sentence #2 is more compelling. If you do decide to go with sentence #1, maybe consider breaking it up into two sentences: “A light rain fell as the procession wove its way up the narrow lane to the cemetery. Each horse halted at the next available slot by the hitching post.”

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