11 opening lines from 11 books that won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction:
1. The Old Man and the Sea
- Ernest Hemingway

'He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.'

Such raw emotion here. The character is painted perfectly in one sentence.
2. To Kill A Mockingbird
- Harper Lee

'When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.

When it healed, and Jem's fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about his injury.'

Character intrigue.
3. The Fixer
- Bernard Malamud

'From the small crossed window of his room above the stable in the brickyard, Yakov Bok saw people in their long overcoats running somewhere early that morning, everybody in the same direction.'

Chaos seen from the eyes of an innocent child.
4. Andersonville
- MacKinley Kantor

“Sometimes there was a compulsion which drew Ira Claffey from his plantation and sent him to walk the forest.”
5. So Big
- Edna Ferber

"Until he was almost ten the name stuck to him.”

Noticing a theme yet?
6. The Sympathizer
- Viet Thanh Nguyen

"I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces."
7. Tinkers
- Paul Harding

"George Washington Crosby began to hallucinate eight days before he died."
8. A Bell for Adano
- John Hershey

“An invasion had come to the town of Adano.”

Spotted it, yet?
9. Advise and Consent
- Allen Drury

“When Bob Mumson awoke in his apartment at the Sheraton Park Hotel at seven thirty-one in the morning he had the feeling it would be a bad day.”
10. The Goldfinch
- Donna Tartt

When I was still in Amsterdam, I dreamed about my mother for the first time in years.
11. Ironweed
- William Kennedy

“Riding up the winding road of Saint Agnes Cemetery in the back of the rattling old truck, Francis Phelan became aware that the dead, even more than the living, settled down in neighborhoods.”
A question I prodded at throughout:

What do all of these first lines have in common?´

Well, here's what I think...

They instantly make you curious.
They use the technique I speak of regularly which is Open Loops.

This is where our brain recognises it doesn't have all the information required.

It begins producing cortisol - the stress chemical.

You have to know the answer.
This is applicable not just in fiction, but all walks of writing.

Your first sentence has to be like glue.

It grabs the reader and opens a loop so big that it can't go unanswered.

But which loop is the best to open?

I like to think of this as The Gambit Method.
In chess, a gambit is where you offer up a pawn with zero exchange expected.

Your opponent is normally confused.

Why are they giving this away for nothing?

Because it leads to a more advantageous position later in the game.
Same principle applies to your writing.

Ask yourself:

What's a detail you could give away that is so enticing your reader can't ignore it?

But it can't give away the whole game.
That's all for today!

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