2 Writing Tips to Avoid First Sentence Mistakes, Call-outs for Kudos & MoGo7000 & Who Won Amber Massey’s Book?

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

First up, let’s look at 2 things you can do to avoid first sentence mistakes…

If you’ve been a student of writing a while you know that first sentences are critical to the success of your work. I’ve actually heard an editor say she reads the first sentence, and if it grabs her interest and doesn’t have any glaring errors, she’ll move to the second.

She will then read the second sentence and decide if she wants to read the third. The process continues until she comes to the end of the first paragraph. At that point she’ll have a pretty good idea whether she has any interest in the story or not.

But did you know the first sentences of the remaining paragraphs are equally critical?

Once you leave that first paragraph to begin the second, the real struggle begins. Here are two common problems to look for as you work on your rewrites.

1.  Take a look at the opening sentences of the following paragraphs. Do you see a problem?

I remember the first time I bought a pair of designer shoes. Money was tight, even though we’d always had enough for our needs. But between the mortgage, the Christian school, and the grocery bill, there wasn’t much left at the end of the month.

I decided that bargain shopping and yard sales would clothe my family. But one day I decided the time had come—I deserved better. And in those days, “better” meant a pair of Aigner shoes.
I headed to the mall and made my selection. I wrote the check for $52 (at least four times my usual shoe allotment) and wore the blue fashion statements out the door.

I walked across the parking lot and proudly glanced around for anyone who might want to smile at me and my shoes. No one smiled.

I drove to the grocery store, anticipating the envious looks from shoppers wearing their dirty old sneakers. But no one noticed. No one except me. By the time I’d selected the apples and thumped the cantaloupe, the left shoe had begun to rub my big toe.

I knew fashion came with a price so I forged ahead, waiting for the admiring glances of moms who wanted to wear—but couldn’t afford—Aigner.

I finished my shopping and hobbled out the door. Then reality hit. Not one person had acknowledged my shoes and the message they carried. Not one person cared that I had just spent half my grocery money on a pair of hard, uncomfortable status symbols. Not one person gave a rip about me and my designer shoes.

I got what I deserved.

Okay, what do you think? If you said all the first sentences started with the same word, you’re correct.

A good writer will vary the first word of the paragraphs.

2.  Now take a look at the first sentences of these paragraphs. Do you see a problem?

As a bona fide, card-carrying daddy’s girl, I grew up feeling beautiful. It didn’t matter if I sported blue-ribboned ponytails or a wet head full of bright pink curlers, Daddy never missed an opportunity to pull me onto his lap, wrap his arms around me, and tell me I was beautiful. It was a great feeling, but it didn’t last.

Before long, I was like every other female in America—I believed the lie. The lie that says we must be beautiful or young or sexy to be worthy of love.

If you’re aware of today’s culture, you may realize airbrushed models, Botoxed movie stars, and ready access to plastic surgery has fueled this lie. And we’re falling for it.

As you know, sex and beauty sell. They sell everything from cars to toothpaste and lawn mowers to furniture polish. But the world’s beauty is a false reality, one manipulated through technique . . . and presented as truth.

And because our culture and its web of deceit are never satisfied with us, we’re never satisfied with ourselves.

Well, what do you think? Did you see a problem?

If you said all the first sentences are similarly constructed, you’re right. The opening sentence of each paragraph begins with a phrase or clause, followed by a comma.

A good writer will vary the structure of the first sentences in a page of paragraphs (and the other sentences throughout the piece).

So there you have it, two things to look for as you rewrite your work. Vary your first word choice and your first sentence structure in your paragraphs, and you’ll increase your chances of seeing your work in print.

(Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Thanks for Tweeting…

2 Writing Tips to Avoid 1st Sentence Mistakes via @VondaSkelton #pubtips #amwriting (Click to Tweet)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~celebration - Morguefile

Calling All Kudos!

Okay, friends, it’s time for us to celebrate YOU and celebrate EACH OTHER! After all, that’s the goal of The Christian Writer’s Den–to encourage and instruct writers.

In order to do that, I need to hear from you! It doesn’t matter how small it may seem to you or how recently it’s been, every step forward is a step that leads to the next one.

So I want to know what you’ve been up to. Have you had something exciting happen recently in your writing or speaking life? Maybe you’ve had an article published, signed a book contract, released a new book, got an agent, or started a new blog. If so, we want to hear from you. Everybody’s welcome to share.

It’s really simple, but I do ask that you contact me with the info in this format and order ONLY:

**Your name
**Your state in two-letter abbreviation
**Link to your website or blog
**Your good news
**Link to your good news, if online (online bookstore, online article, etc)

I can’t wait for us to celebrate with you!


mogo7000 logoWho Worked on Their MoGo7000 in July?

If you wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in July, you can receive an entry in the drawing for the 2015 MoGo7000 $100 cash prize! It’s open to everyone who qualifies.

To report your July results, please leave a comment below with your total new words written on a book project in July. (Please do not send your totals by email or through the Contact page. Totals must be left as a comment here by next Sunday). 

If you missed out on last year’s money-winning writing challenge, don’t worry, the 2015 Challenge continues! Here are the MoGo7000 Challenge rules. All you have to do is write at least 7000 NEW words on a book project in any month and you’ll receive an entry into the end-of-the-year drawing for $100.

Each month that you qualify with 7000 new words, your name goes in the “hat” for the drawing. Reach the goal one month and you’ll have one entry. Just starting out? Don’t worry! Meet it the next 5 months and you’ll have 5 entries!

So what are you waiting for? Get started now and you could have and extra $100 next year. And it doesn’t cost you a cent. :-)

Thanks for Tweeting…

#Writers you can win $100 w/MoGo7000. Only 5 months left to qualify! via @VondaSkelton Christian Writer’s Den (Click to Tweet)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~For the Love of Horses-Compressed

Who Won Amber Massey’s Book?

And the winner is…

Margery Warder!

Congratulations, Margery! Contact me with your snail mail address and Amber will get your book right out to you!

And friends, you don’t have to miss out. Here’s your direct Amazon link to For the Love of Horses: Everyday Lessons From Life in the Saddle, by Amber Massey.


Thanks for Tweeting…

2 Writing Tips to Avoid 1st Sentence Mistakes via @VondaSkelton #pubtips #amwriting (Click to Tweet)

Well, that does it for another 1st Tuesday. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ve found help for your writing journey today! After all, that’s my goal at The Christian Writer’s Den. 🙂



Posted in categories: Business of Writing | Kudos | MoGo7000 | Writing Instruction

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  • 23,419 words for July.

  • Great reminders!!! Thank you, my friend.

  • Nan Jones

    Thank you for these good reminders. You’re a blessing.

  • Dee Dee Parker

    Thanks for these helpful tips, Vonda. Congrats Margery!

    • You’re welcome, Dee Dee. We probably talked about this at at least one of the writing retreats we used to take in the mountains. 🙂 I miss those days.

  • Tammy Whitehurst

    Congrats Margery! Enjoy your new read. 🙂

  • Susan Baganz

    18,270 words for July. Going a little slower for me with this novel because I’m busy with edits on book number #2 in my series to get off to my editor. The one I’m working on is book #6! Having fun though!

  • Congrats Margery! And thank you, Vonda, for the sentence-building tips. 🙂

  • Good points for writers to remember .