I Do Declare: A good opening line is like a siren call to the muse

typewriterSometimes it’s hard to get started. This I know all too well, having spent many a day staring at the computer screen, hands poised, waiting for inspiration to take over.

But let’s be honest. No self-respecting muse will dash to your side and start nudging and cajoling you into doing your own work. You have to get going first. Then she shows up.

This being the case, I am always on the search for ways to kick-start my writing. One effective way I discovered is to take an opening line and free-write for about 15 minutes. That quarter of a hour usually gives me enough forward motion to get into the story I need to be doing.

The cool thing is sometimes those warm-up exercises turn into stories themselves.

Try it out. Here are some opening lines to help propel you into your story:

  • The cure for seven deadly diseases sat on the shelf in the room across the hall, and no one could do a damn thing about it.
  • I’ve never quite gotten over my fascination with Milton.
  • There are three perfect ways to die, and by the time she was 23, Sally had learned them all.
  •  I never should have given him the code.
  • Henry happened to be there when the tide pulled a jon-boat past the dock, its hull empty except for a cast net in the bottom, full of shrimp.
  • At some point, all parents have to lie.
  • In the woods behind the house, Mary and Janet found a magic hat.
  • Lord have mercy, the sermon lasted so long I forgot I was still mad at the preacher and shook his hand on the way out without meaning to.
  • Voicing an unpopular opinion on Twitter is to face judge, jury, and executioner all at once.
  • No one could have predicted that three hours one afternoon would change the world.

If none of these are to your liking, you might try opening up a magazine or newspaper, grab the first sentence you see, and use that as your opening line.

Go write right now!


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