how to get a request for pages · query problems · writing problems

The best first line is specific

The first line of the pitch determines whether I read or skim.

Lack of specifics loses me. Consider:

Life in the city was all Cameron ever wanted. Her grandma said that was foolish: working with the field droids was more peaceful. Cameron didn’t mind fixing mechs in a factory if it meant living in Old York.

Cameron wants a life in some city: big whoop. What does “life in the city” mean to her? Who is she? What’s the difference between cities and her hometown?

I lose interest in the first sentence.

The first detail we get is field droids. That paints the world: futuristic, animatronic, utilitarian. But it’s too late: I’m already skimming.

Now consider:

Life among the gleaming skyscrapers of Old York was the only thing black-thumbed Cameron wanted. Her grandma said that was foolish: working with the field droids was more peaceful…

The first sentence paints a picture now. It’s not the best sentence–no mention of the tech, the cliché all she ever wanted–but it sets the scene and the character using specific nouns and only two adjectives.

I see a mechanical, high-rise-filled, near-future earth. I know Cameron: she’s good with technology and prefers feats of engineering over people.

I’m reading now.

We’re left with ONE question. Why can’t Cameron achieve her dream of living in Old York? That’s the heart of your plot. Cameron wants something (Old York life) and must overcome obstacles (which you’ll set up in sentence 2 or 3) in order to get it.


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