Compelling first sentences have three elements:

  1. Character:  The brain needs to understand the story from one person's perspective.

  2. Conflict:  Tension is the glue that keeps listeners attached to the story's outcome.

  3. Narrative action: Puts your story in motion like an arrow is shot and starts to glide through space.

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Great Beginnings

Start with a hook and action.




Your first sentence needs to grab our attention and make us curious to continue listening.

Here are some first sentence examples:

Personal narrative, by Tony Gervino:

I was 6 when my brother John leaned across the kitchen table and casually whispered that he had killed Santa Claus.

Mission to India, by Dr. George Lombardi:

It was a Saturday afternoon in September 1989, and I was home alone unpacking boxes when the phone rang, and a woman that I did not know started to interrogate me.

Man and Beast, from Alan Rabinowitz

I was five years old, standing in the old, great cat house at the Bronx Zoo, staring into the face of an old female jaguar.

The Prince and I by Jillian Lauren

I was an eighteen-year-old NYU dropout struggling to pay my rent in New York by dancing at the Kit-Kat Club on 56th Street and Broadway, when a friend of mine approached me about a casting call.

Don't Fall in Love with Your Monkey by Ari Handel

Don't fall in love with your monkey.” My advisor warned me, but I didn't listened. There are some things you have to learn for yourself..

Tajik Sonata from Anoid Latipovna Rakhmatyllaeva

It's half past five in the morning. I get up, and I don't feel rested because I have been walking and walking in my dreams all night.

Impeachment Day by Joe Lockhart

My story starts in late July in Washington, DC. It was a typical hot summer day. I found myself in the Oval Office by myself, and in walked the President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton.

Easter in a Texas Roadhouse by Wayne Reese

Travel with me if you will to a space called the Panhandle in North Texas. Travel with me to the year 1960, fifty years ago, specifically the Saturday before Easter.

Elevator ER by Jon Levin

When I was young, I was a bright, happy, enthusiastic kid. So some people may have been a little surprised when years later I had become an angry, sullen, disaffected high school dropout.

The Big Things You Don't Do by Annie Duke

It's 2004, and I'm playing in a $2 million winner-take-all poker tournament called the Tournament of Champions, and I have two tens, and I have to decide whether to put the last of my remaining chips into the pot and risk getting knocked out. And I've already taken fifteen seconds with this decision, and it's just way too long.

A View of Earth by Michael Massimino

In 1984 I was a senior in college, and I went to see the movie The Right Stuff. And a couple of things really struck me in that movie. The first was the view out the window of John Glenn's spaceship-the view of the Earth, how beautiful it was on  the big screen. I wanted to see that view. And secondly, the camaraderie between the original seven astronauts depicted in that movie - how they were good friends, how they would never let each other down. I wanted to be a part of an organization like that.

And it rekindled a boyhood dream that had gone dormant over the years. That dream to grow up to be an astronaut. And I just could not ignore this dream. I had to pursue it.