I want to hook readers into my stories straight away, so the first lines and first paragraphs are mega important. It’s not easy though. I'm still working on the perfect line.
I slam the door and ratchet the security chain into the lock. The taxi loiters under the streetlight. I watch it through the spy-hole until it moves slowly away. Some of the tension in my neck and shoulders goes with it.
What I was aiming for here was a sense of danger, and to establish that the story will be told in the first person (the first time I’d done that.)
Jud Jeffreys, disgraced detective, stepped off the City Loop tram onto the central island platform.
This line introduces the main character and describes him arriving somewhere. It’s a bit low key.
Jud Jeffreys, demoted detective, recognised another exile.
This first line again introduces the main character, but packs more of a punch. We know he’s been demoted and exiled, and he's observant.
Short story editors say that the most common story beginning is someone waking up in the morning. I hope I can do better than that! Another option is to start right in the middle of the story and then go back to show how we got to this point. I took this approach in my short story The Empty Quarter, published in Aurealis magazine in 2018.
The Empty Quarter
I sign the evacuation order. It’s a relief, really. Sand and vines buried our farms and cities, and there’s no place for humans on Vennia any more.
Great story about colonisation and ecological disruption! (also available from ebook sellers).