One tactic writers use to grab our attention is to start with a bang.

“Where’s Papa going with that ax?”

Suppose you overheard someone in your kitchen say that. Could you imagine your father with a big ax? Maybe not, but it would make you wonder. Would you want to hear more? If the answer is yes, congratulate E. B. White. In the very first sentence of Charolette’s Web, he’s got you hooked.

Suppose the first sentence of the book read more like this: Fern Arable was eight years old, and she was a nice girl. Boring! There are quite a few nice eight-year-old girls on the planet. That sentence gives you no reason to read on. No picture springs to your mind. Nothing is happening. Yet, Papa on a mysterious mission with a blade, now, that gets your attention.

A good first sentence:

● Flashes a picture in your mind, using concrete details

● Puts you in the middle of an emotional or dramatic event.

Aristotle had the same idea when he wrote begin in media res, which is Latin for “in the middle of the thing.”