top of page

What do We learn about a Book from Its First Sentence?

Updated: Oct 4, 2021

First sentences of books have always fascinated me. It’s probably not too much a stretch for me to say that if the first sentence doesn’t grab me, I won’t read the second.


Because the first sentence sets the stage for all that is to come. It identifies who will tell the story, whether that person has skin in the game or is a detached observer, when and where the action takes place.

The great screen writing guru Syd Field famously said that the action in any good story should “arrive late and leave early.” So it is that a first sentence when best written drops us in the middle of the tale and makes us wonder what has already happened and what lies ahead.

I’ve done something different in this post and have added a short audio clip I made for my site Author Create on the topic of first sentences. The clip contains readings from the initial sentence in several famous books. I hope you will give it a listen and drop me a comment below about how these sentences strike you and which first sentences have grabbed you through the years in books you love.


8 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page