First up, let’s look at 2 things you can do to avoid first sentence mistakes…
If youâ€™ve been a student of writing a while you know that first sentences are critical to the success of your work. Iâ€™ve actually heard an editor say she reads the first sentence, and if it grabs her interest and doesnâ€™t have any glaring errors, sheâ€™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 sheâ€™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.Â 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 weâ€™d always had enough for our needs. But between the mortgage, the Christian school, and the grocery bill, there wasnâ€™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 comeâ€”I deserved better. And in those days, â€śbetterâ€ť 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 Iâ€™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 wearâ€”but couldnâ€™t affordâ€”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, youâ€™re correct.
A good writer will vary the first word of the paragraphs.
2.Â Now take a look at the first sentences of these paragraphs. Do you see a problem?
As a bona fide, card-carrying daddyâ€™s girl, I grew up feeling beautiful. It didnâ€™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 didnâ€™t last.
Before long, I was like every other female in Americaâ€”I believed the lie. The lie that says we must be beautiful or young or sexy to be worthy of love.
If youâ€™re aware of todayâ€™s culture, you may realize airbrushed models, Botoxed movie stars, and ready access to plastic surgery has fueled this lie. And weâ€™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 worldâ€™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, weâ€™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, youâ€™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 youâ€™ll increase your chances of seeing your work in print.
(Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
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Calling All Kudos!
Okay, friends, itâ€™s time for us to celebrate YOU and celebrate EACH OTHER! After all, thatâ€™s the goal of The Christian Writerâ€™s Denâ€“to encourage and instruct writers.
In order to do that, I need to hear from you! It doesnâ€™t matter how small it may seem to you or how recently itâ€™s been, every step forward is a step that leads to the next one.
So I want to know what youâ€™ve been up to. Have you had something exciting happen recently in your writing or speaking life? Maybe youâ€™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. Everybodyâ€™s welcome to share.
Itâ€™s really simple, but I do ask that you contact me with the info in this format and order ONLY:
**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 canâ€™t wait for us to celebrate with you!
Who 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! Itâ€™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).Â
If you missed out on last yearâ€™s money-winning writing challenge, donâ€™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 youâ€™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 â€śhatâ€ť for the drawing. Reach the goal one month and youâ€™ll have one entry. Just starting out? Donâ€™t worry! Meet it the next 5 months and youâ€™ll have 5 entries!
So what are you waiting for? Get started now and you could have and extra $100 next year. And it doesnâ€™t cost you a cent.
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Who Won Amber Massey’s Book?
And the winner is…
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.
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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. đź™‚