Importance of First Impressions

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After watching several First Sentence Challenges on YouTube, I’m convinced I would lose that challenge. OK, I really only had to watch one to come to that conclusion, but I kept going because YouTube is The Rabbit Hole.

The idea of the First Sentence Challenge is that someone reads you the first line of a book you’ve read and you have to guess which book it is.

I wanted to see how people did, and I enjoyed seeing the vloggers’ personalities come through via guessing (and which books they’d read). But in addition to that, it was interesting hearing and really listening to all these book openings.

Of the books that were in the challenge that I’d read, I did not remember any of their first lines. Of the books in the challenge that I hadn’t read, none of their first sentences jumped out at me. Most were vague. One mentioned the weather (rain).

The first lines that were guessed most quickly had first lines that included names or, in Harry Potter’s case, a mention of wands. Those sentences included something special about that particular story.

The purpose of a first line isn’t for people to guess the book after they’ve read it, but to entice people to read the story in the first place. However, the blank looks gave me pause.

When writing marketing emails one of the guidelines is to write the subject line last. Compose the email, find what the core of that email is and then construct the subject line (what entices the people to open the email in the first place) after you really understand what your email is about.

I wonder if that might be good advice for novels, too.

Here are a few First Sentence Challenge videos to get you started:

Jesse the Reader

Padfoot and Prongs 07

Fun Bonus
Here’s the first sentence to one of the few books I’ve read more than once (hint: it’s a favorite): Behavioral Science, the FBI section that deals with serial murder, is on the bottom floor of the Academy building at Quantico, half-buried in the earth.

What’s the book?

 

2 thoughts on “Importance of First Impressions

  1. Never knew that marketing strategy suggests you write the subject line after you’ve written the email. I may use that advice when sending out my query letters now –thanks!

    _____

    • Many beginning copywriters write the subject line first and then spend all their time on the body copy. However, if your subject line isn’t engaging, no one will open your email to read the copy you spent so much time on. Writing the subject line last gives you the chance to see themes and come up with those zingers.

      As far as query letters, most agents I see have guidelines that generally ask you to write “Query: Title” as the subject line. Of course, non-fiction agents might be different. Blogverse, Do you know?

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