April 13, 2017

Hook a Reader

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director at Southern Writers Magazine

My friend and author, Steve Bradshaw was stirring up social media the other day by posting a picture on Facebook. He gave a writing prompt with the posting of an intriguing picture saying, "there's a story here. Write the first sentence..."

My sentence was "'Murder in the family mausoleum' was the lead story for a week; then, another victim was found."

Author Michael Hicks Thompson responded, "Randolph Horn had always lived in a mansion. His last would be his forever."

Author Claire Fullerton's sentence was, "It takes the permanence of a graveyard to remind me of my impermanence."

Author Nick Nixon's sentence, "As I knelt beside the gravestone to lay some flowers down, the ground beneath me started to tremble. Suddenly a pasty, gray hand burst out of the grave and grabbed my ankle! Ahhhhhh!!!!"

Author Loryn Kramer Staley's sentence was, "Hidden in the shadow the old elm provided, she was relieved to find she was on this side of the daisies.

Author Devin Greaney wrote, "June 8, 1874, Rosa laid down to bed in her home on North Main, yet she awoke, of all places, in this cemetery which she realized was odd though not nearly as much as her discovery that it was now 2017."

Reader, Janie wrote, “Two sisters looking for relatives that were gone before them! Gone but not forgotten!"

Reader, Laurie's sentence, "I know I only have an hour or so before the darkness will be here... right here, once more."

Reader, Mike wrote, "The only ability Tripp had over making a grand entrance was the pomp and circumstance surrounding his grand exit and it's awe inspiring finality. He had commissioned his majestic mausoleum eighteen years ago and no detail was left unfinished. It has been said that, "You can't take it with you" but, apparently, they didn't know Harold Robinson, III."

Reader Julie's sentence was, "The moment he saw the old stone church in the middle of the beauty of its green surroundings he felt the sinister uneasiness he had felt before. He felt it beckoning yet a fear so pervasive overcame him he couldn't move. Suddenly he realized........"

Steve's post provided fabulous responses from authors and readers, alike. Authors' sentences had a different but clearly connected perspective. Authors want to hook the reader with the all-important first sentence. Readers wrote what they wanted to first read, which essentially is the same thing. 

Lessons for authors can be learned through an exercise like this, and it gets everyone's creative juices flowing. 

Thanks to Steve, it fueled me to write this blog post. How about you? 

If you didn't see Steve's picture, here it is, and now it's your turn to write the first sentence of the story behind this picture. 

Ready, get set...go. 

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