Jon Walter, whose debut novel Close To The Wind is ACHUKA’s current hot recommendation, chooses and comments on some great opening sentences in children’s/YA fiction, and has some interesting things to say about his own opening sentence and the role of the editorial process in shaping it.
That’s the first line in my debut novel, Close to the Wind, and I’m rather proud of it. The line doesn’t shout out at you, but it does a lot of work establishing the tone of the book and giving you the setting and characters without any fuss.
It’s always difficult to know how to begin a book. Originally, I had a much bolder first line but during an editorial meeting it was suggested I lose it and start with the second line in.
Of course, I objected. I said it was the best line I’d ever written and had taken me months to construct, but I promised I would have a think about it. By the time I arrived back home I knew it would have to go. For a different book it would have been perfect but for this one it just wasn’t right.
An opening sentence should draw the reader from their own head and take them somewhere completely different. It’s the start of a whole new world and for that reason, probably the most important line of any book.