How to Grab ‘Em at the First Sentence

A blogger only gets one chance to make a first impression.

The Expectant Gnome

He's opening with a bouquet, trying to make a good first impression.

As a blogger you have to give careful thought to your first few sentences–what we are calling “openers”.  We have been auditioning a few on our soon-to-be-published Where I Live pages. We are trying to grab your attention and invite you to read on. Tell us: do our openers grab you?

Because we are especially generous, we will share our strategies. Actually, they are used by other writers use, too. Feel free to improve upon our ideas–and then tell us about your writing. (Not all of our Where I Live pages are published yet–the drafts are still being polished. Stay tuned.)

You can start a piece of writing with a question. Like this:

Do you live somewhere where you are close to big white mountains, fresh-water rivers, and amazing wildlife? I do! ~ Matt

Have you ever wondered why our license plate has “Beautiful British Columbia” written on it?  ~ Arwen

How much further West can you get in Canada? Not much!    ~ Jared

You can start a piece of writing with humour. Like this:

Where do I live, you ask? I live …uh…..I…(check map)…I’m just kidding. I live in breathtaking British Columbia, Canada.  ~ Kendra

It’s where I live. It has grass, trees, and the occasional Camspot (camel refueling station).  ~ Noah

You can start a piece of writing with a strong statement. Like this:

I live in the most beautiful place of all: the Comox Valley, where it’s not too cold and not too warm.  ~ Charlie

The world is huge, the world is amazing… and lucky for me, I live in the best, most beautiful place ever!  ~ Jane

You can start a piece of writing with a triple phrase. Like this:

Tall trees, fresh air, and icy, crystal clear water… I have them here.  ~ Darion

The stunning view of the Comox Glacier, the crashing waves at Goose Spit, and the soaring bald eagles are enough to make someone faint.   ~ Matthew

Do you live by the ocean? Can you see towering mountains off into the distance? Are you able to go to a beach and swim all day? ~ Greyson

You can start a piece of writing by painting a scene for the reader. Like this:

The eagle screeches in the the early morning, soaring over the sky, the great glacier in the distance. ~ Jack

I live in the beautiful Comox Valley where all the Douglas fir trees are and the Comox Glacier has a blanket of snow and ice on it all the time.  ~ Ethan

You can start a piece of writing with by creating a sound-scape for the reader. Like this:

Puff…    That’s unmistakable sound of the rippling, powdery snow as I carve down the newly blanketed face of our mountain, Mt. Washington.  ~ Jordan

You can start a piece of writing with a very short sentence. Like this:

Everything. That’s what I have where I live. I have everything I could ever want: lakes, oceans, forests, mountains.    ~ Maya

Beautiful British Columbia. A place of everything from mountains to shopping. A place of nature and the 21 century.  ~ Meghan

You can start a piece of writing with a surprising fact. Like this:

I live on Vancouver Island in the Comox Valley, where deer walk the streets.  ~ Zach

I have the ocean and snow-filled mountains close by. That means I can fish and ski all in the same day!   ~ Reid

I live in Canada, the second largest country in the world.  ~ Amber

I’m going to take you on a journey, outside the computer screen and into my world. ~ Laina

You can start a piece of writing with a combination–a question and a triple phrase. Like this:

Have you ever wanted to just unwind in a beautiful landscape? Imagine the salty spray in your face, the smell of sweet sap on a pine tree, the taste of freshly cooked salmon.  ~ Andrew

Well, that’s quite a variety. Each student is writing about essentially the same topic–our home, the Comox Valley–and yet there is wonderful diversity in their writing. We are writing these pages to help visitors, many of whom are taking part in the Student Blogging Challenge, have a sense of where we live. Please take time to visit and encourage these bloggers. I suspect you will be entertained, informed, and inspired.


25 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your tantalizing and original openers. They made me even more appreciative of where I live and left me wanting to read more!

  2. “The most important sentence in any article is the first one. If it doesn’t induce the reader to proceed to the second sentence, your article is dead” (Zinsser, On Writing Well, p. 65).

    What’s the recipe for successful writing and hooked readers? It’s the winning combination I see in your blog. It’s explicit instruction (thank you Mrs. Smith!), an authentic audience (your blog!) and talented writers such as yourselves!

    Hmm? I wonder if you can take your brilliant openers and turn them into powerful endings? That might just create bookends for your pieces about living in the amazing Comox Valley. Have a look at:
    http://web.sd71.bc.ca/literacy/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Timmerman-Was-Here3.pdf and let me know what you think!

    Mrs. C. Walters

    1. Thank you, Mrs. Walters for your guidance and support along the way. Closing a piece of writing can be difficult–some sudden stops cause whiplash for a reader. We are learning, learning, learning, and will look for the book to get us thinking about powerful endings.

  3. Dear Huzzahians,
    You are leaders the field of writing Openers. In my grade 3 class we call them “Grabbers” but it is the exact same thing. I find when a writer grabs my attention at the beginning of a writing piece, I am eager to continue to read their ideas, opinions, and information.
    I plan to have my class read your entry with thoughtful eyes and hopefully pick up a few new tips for writing their own Opener-Grabbers.
    ~Ms. Bulger down at Brooklyn

    1. Ms Bulger! Great to hear from you. Many of these writers came from your room and I have to say I am the beneficiary of great teaching from all grades past, as these writers have arrived with so many skills. We will be stopping by your blog soon…looking forward to future connections!

  4. Pingback: Thank You | dreams
  5. Wonderful! I have been working on some good leads in the last few years. In my blogging and writing, i have tried to use “hooking” leads to “hook” the readers in the writing. That’s a good way to attract readers to your writing. Otherwise, even your story is great, readers wouldn’t read it!
    Daiki

  6. love your blog so creative. I really think that you are good at winning compations from your 2 little badges. Good luck on the best class blog.

  7. Dear Mrs. Smith and class,
    Thank you for all your great advice about how to write better first sentences. My class is trying out some of your techniques this week. They have been working on an Egyptian research project…and I thought they could try out the writing techniques you suggested along with telling each other what they’ve learned so far about ancient Egypt.

    You should stop by and see what you think. Did we do a good job? Please feel free to comment on anyone’s effort and give them even more tips. You can find our class blog at http://lmsblogs.org

    Mrs. R

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