“The glass bottle rolled off the Formica table, splattered the last of the gin onto the linoleum floor, and released its pungent odor into the shadowy kitchen.”
The line above is the first sentence of my newest release, Skin Deep, published by Whiskey Creek Press. First lines are important. They make an immediate impression on the reader. They set the tone for the book and help the reader to determine whether or not they’ll like the story. Heck, they help the reader to determine if they’ll even read the rest of the story! Readers’ attention spans and time are short; there’s a lot of competition out there. Yes, every sentence is important, but the first one, is especially so.
My first sentences tend to rely on as many senses, and incorporate as much imagery, as possible. I want to draw the reader in and make her feel as if she is there. Of course, sight is a given here. It’s easy to picture the bottle rolling and the alcohol spattering. Smell is expressed through the odor of the gin, as well, possibly, as its taste. There is the sound of the bottle rolling on the counter and the splat of the liquid on the floor. Touch is implied through the glass bottle. Hopefully, the reader can picture how the smooth bottle feels against their own skin.
In addition to the five senses, my first sentence also gives, I hope, a feel for the atmosphere of the kitchen. The Formica table indicates that the room is older and perhaps indicative of a lower economic class (no offense to any Formica-lovers out there!). The linoleum floor also gives that same impression. And shadowy indicates a lack of light, or perhaps a time of day. Combined, it's dark and fairly depressing.
Considering that the scene that follows this first sentence involves an alcoholic and his abuse of his wife, it’s a pretty realistic picture. Don’t worry, I promise it gets better! J
If you’re a writer, what do your first sentences tell about your stories? And if you’re a reader, how much importance do you put into the first sentence?