The first one. It needs to trap the reader and drag him into the story. The first paragraph is important too, and the first page. But the reader may never read the first paragraph if the first sentence fizzles.
I pulled down some books from my book case and listed the first sentence from each. Some of these are from New York Times best selling authors like Ted Dekker. Some are from books by authors I had never heard of. A few are from books that were too tedious to reread. See if you can guess which of these sentences came from good books and which were mediocre books.
I also included the first sentence of the all time best selling book. And I included several from books I wrote.
Sample Starting Sentence
- Carlos Missirian was his name. One of his many names.
- I had never been in the oval office before.
- The office had no windows, only electric lanterns to light the hundreds of spines standing in their cherry wood bookcases.
- Jacob was a schemer.
- Tahn crept up the stone wall like a silent reptile after its prey.
- According to the books of history, everything that happened after the year 2010 actually began in the year 4036 A.D.
- Riley Keep returned to the scene of his disgrace in the back of a northbound pickup truck with New Brunswick plates.
- I have always wanted to write a book.
- Jason jumped from his chair, nearly stumbling in the process.
- Air this thin turns everyone into a mystic.
- The telephone call that completely turned around the lives of every member of my family came at 10:30 P.M. on a Sunday evening.
- A hot sticky evening in Los Angeles.
- I was obnoxious when I was young.
- Salazar Sanso raised his binoculars and looked out over the edge of the steep drop into the rosy New Mexican desert.
- Louisa Sherbatov had just turned six, but she would never turn seven.
- In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
- It was the proudest day of Diocletian’s life.
- People often misunderstand God.
- The wilted grass growing along the rail fence that surrounded the old graveyard bore testimony to the day’s pressing heat.
- Every “thinker” needs a sanctuary—a quiet haven with no distractions to disturb their thought processes.