Because I review chapters from new writers everyday, I come across some really bad writing. What I find difficult is when the new book I'm reading has a really terrible opening paragraph or line. So, I thought I would look for some advice on what makes a good opening paragarph. Instead, I found this article online. It's from a 2006 writing contest. These paragraphs are some of the opening paragraphs from the entries.
Now you can know what NOT to do... (Source here)
The McCain boys strode off proudly to fight in the Civil War, one for the Union and one for the Confederacy, neither of them giving a single thought to who would play them in the television movie of their story, which would be decided more than a hundred years later by 20-something casting agents who kept gettingthe Civil War and World War II mixed up.
Diamond Bar, CA
When Debbie decided that Salt ‘n’ Pepper Beard was the most attractive pirate on the ship, she realized that choosing him was due to the advice of Sylvia, her new Life Coach, to be realistic about her own age and to open herself up to romance where it lay, unlike the troublesome past where she would have wished that only the younger pirates take advantage of her.
If Gilbert had known then what he knew now, he would have seen that the dilemma facing him–to do a good deed for the wrong reason or to do a bad deed for the right reason–had long ago been shown to be two sides of the same coin by the philosopher known as Theragora of Crete even though he was not from Crete at all, but from Malta, which of course was not called Malta when Theragora was there.
The king’s men breathed heavily under their thick black hoods as they secured the wrists and ankles of prisoner William Tumey of Kent and as the rack’s handle began to turn the ropes tightened and William’s limbs were slowly stretched in opposite directions until his spine began to pop much like a bag of Redenbachers in a microwave and for something like the time it takes a hummingbird’s wings to complete one cycle William smiled and euphorically languished in perfect lumbar alignment.
A single sparkling tear fell from Little Mary’s cheek onto the sidewalk, then slid into the storm drain, there to join in its course the mighty waters of the Los Angeles River and, eventually, Long Beach Harbor, with its state-of-the-art container-freight processing facilities.
Bill Mac Iver
Her angry accusations burned Clyde like that first bite of a double cheese pizza, when the toppings slide off and sear that small elevation of the oral mucosa, just behind the front teeth, known as the incisive papilla, which is linked to the discriminatory function of the taste buds except, where Clyde was concerned, when it came to women.
Pamela Patchet Hamilton
It had been a dark and stormy night, but as dawn began to light up the eastern sky, to the west the heavens suddenly cleared, unveiling a pale harvest moon that reposed gently atop the distant mesa like a pumpkin on a toilet with the lid down.
Gerald R. Johnson
Lisa moved like a cat, not the kind of cat that moves with a slinky grace but more like the kind that always falls off the book shelf when he’s washing himself and then gets all mad at you like it’s your fault (which it wasn’t although it probably was kind of mean to laugh at him like that), although on the bright side, she hardly ever attacked Ricky’s toes in his sleep.
Wichita Falls, TX
He rose quickly when she entered, not like the flag being raised at the American Legion in a jerky fashion, but more like the light red Creme Soda in the straw of a teenage girl or boy on the back porch of his mobile home late in the evening.
The nervous and untried exotic dancer seemed to cling protectively to her brass pole like the edge of a roll of plastic wrap when you are looking for the beginning of the roll and it seems like it’s healed up or melted into the rest of the wrap until finally you just give up and use foil or wax paper instead.
Sun City, CA
The steam rose off his sweaty red flannel shirt like cotton candy on a cardboard cone, if cotton candy were transparent in a misty sort of way and didn’t actually stick to its cone, but instead rose upwards something like steam rising off a sweatyflannel shirt in the twilight of an early winter Vermont afternoon.
T. Edward Lavoie
Essex Junction VT