Fifty First Sentences

I came upon this exercise a while ago, but I haven’t gotten around to doing much with it until…about now. Essentially, there’s a webpage with a bunch of lists of fifty words each and the challenge is to choose a theme and write a sentence for each word in your chosen theme. I tried this with fairytales once and didn’t get past the first few words, so I thought I’d practice something equally as important: Hooks.

Ever heard the saying “Hook, line, and sinker”? Even if you’re not familiar with fishing (and I know I’m not), you’ll get what it means–and just the same, the “hook” of a story is its opening, what grabs the reader and keeps him or her hooked, pun intended.

Since the hook is perhaps the most crucial part of any story, I thought I’d give my hook-writing skills a little exercise and instead of trying to write fifty themed sentences, I’ll simply write fifty first sentences.

For anyone wondering, I’ll be using list Delta, and all the selected words will be bold.

#01 – Sasha bolted upright, gasping for air.

#02 – Apples this time of year were mostly ripe or rotten, but for Artemis, this one was golden.

#03 – “A new beginning?” he said, laughing, “As if that’ll ever happen.”

#04 – When the door opened, the bugs were everyone.

#05 – Only one thing could simultaneously start Jordan’s day and end it at the same time: Coffee.

#06 – Mark stood in the dark, holding his breath as the specter passed above him.

#07 – “Have not despair,” the hero sang, “your savior is here!”

#08 – Doors lined the hallway for as far his eyes could see and he swore he had to be dreaming.

#09 – The teacher’s eyes were  glossy as she pointed at the board and tried to enunciate, “Drink, drank, drunk.”

#10 – There’s no greater duty to serve than one you’d die for.

#11 – As the glare of the sun lessened on the foreshield of the craft, the battered remains of Earth slowly came into view.

#12 – The end came the moment I signed the dotted line; the rest was commentary.

#13 – Joseph first thought the season was called Fall for the leaves from trees, not the angels from Heaven.

#14 – Fire leapt around him on all sides, but he plunged deeper into the flames to find the face of his love.

#15 – Afterwards, everyone would say they knew it had to happen, knew the tree’d be too flexible when the storm finally came.

#16 – Flying was never the hard part, even with no wings to fly with.

#17 – To Michelle, he looked like food.

#18 – One foot and three steps later, Greyson finally reached the gates.

#19 – The bodies were piled high ten yards across, but by then they were all too torn to even dig a single grave.

#20 – Going green was never easy for Jenny until she tried the rose-colored glasses.

#21 – “Close your eyes and aim for the head,” she told me.

#22 – Shallow water was one thing; she didn’t know she could drown in hollow words, too.

#23 – “It shall be my honor“–kneeling down, shield to the side, helm to the ground–“to oblige, my lady.”

#24 – Hope was never enough for him, even after Grace came to town.

#25 – He stroked his chin as he considered his words carefully, the light reflecting off his glasses a bother to everyone except him.

#26 – She got lost on her way to breakfast every morning.

#27 – John reared back a second too late, his hand already pierced by the metal pin sticking out of the chair.

#28 – Keith recognized the silence when he stepped inside the bar: A new villain had come to dinner.

#29 – Half the Old City lay desolate when the sun rose on Thursday.

#30 – In the end, peace wasn’t worth the sacrifice.

#31 – No one saw the poison but everybody knew it was already there.

#32 – Pretty much everyone that came to the party wasn’t invited.

#33 – The rain inside Sarah’s soul sang serenades to the spark of fire resting before her.

#34 – I have no greater regret than not regretting a single thing I did that night.

#35 – Roses are red, the children sang, never having seen a single rose to know the truth.

#36 – When Captain Alexander Locke pulled the cockpit door shut, he could count the seconds before his secret would come out.

#37 – “Snakes on a plane? Ha! I thought we were doing calculus!”

#38 – “There’s snow place like Alaska,” he said and flashed a smile bright enough to blind.

#39 – Sven realized two things when he woke up, first that his heart was on fire, second that his bed was no longer solid.

#40 – Their homework said to measure the tension of a spring, but Clark and Amanda measured the tension of other things instead.

#41 – Sean wasn’t officially committed, but everyone knew he wasn’t stable.

#42 – Strange things were known to happen on the third Tuesday of November.

#43 – The bell rang and summer began for everybody but Chris.

#44 – Too soon he knew it was taboo, but he kept going anyways.

#45 – Ugly wasn’t meant to be subjective, but Miranda couldn’t deal with the objective implications of the insult.

#46 – The soldiers knew less of the war than of what they were fighting for.

#47 – The lake was frozen but the water underneath teemed with magic waiting to swallow anyone who stepped near enough to fall into it.

#48 – There was no welcome sign at the small motel, but they had no other choice but to stop for the night.

#49 – The best part of camping in the winter, Rick decided, wasn’t the cold, but what it led to.

#50 – The wood was old and shady and beckoned the young couple to come inside.

And there you have it–fifty first sentences! Of course, the best way to improve is to get feedback, so if any of them worked really well, or didn’t work at all, why not tell me about it? Who knows, if there’s one that’s really popular, I might write a full story for it!

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2 thoughts on “Fifty First Sentences

  1. I’m going to try real hard not to cover every line. Most of these are opinions, no more:

    #01 This wouldn’t hook me, I find it too much a continuance to a previous event. Though you could work back toward that event, or even continue by explaining the distressing dream, it doesn’t work that well as a start.

    #02 Artemis. This piece of proze would make a great opening, but it is my interest in Roman and Greek mythology that would captivate me to read on.

    #03 As a character, I would dislike the individual saying this. No judgment of value on the line itself though.

    #04 Now that’s just interesting. Not only do you create a mystery, but you phrase it in such an odd literary fashion I couldn’t help but be intrigued.

    Cheap, really. 😉

    #05 The named tautology. I like openings like this; I’d be amused at using coffee as the object referred to.

    #06 Same as #01.

    #07 An imperative? That would be better followed up with “your savior arrives”, taken over “has arrived”. Either way, this hero appears to know what he’s doing.

    #09 “Glossy”, not “glassy?”

    On a side note, I find the closing mark in quotation to be the oddest of English grammar rules. It makes no sense at all to have to finish with the unquote given that the question mark is not a part of the quoted (or summoned, in this case) segment.

    #10 Inclined to say “serve” and “duty” is a tautology, but I reckon you could serve the duty itself as such.

    #14 Again feels like it wouldn’t be a bad “hook”, but would serve better as a continuance. Perhaps the opening to a closing chapter, rather than a book?

    #17 Would be interesting if it was a psychological drama, would it not? Distorted worldview and all that.

    #34 The “that night” reference seems a bit cliche, but the opening proze and the flow with the sentence I appreciate.

    #35 This minus “to know the truth”. A “single one”, perhaps. It would make a great opening, I’d say.

    #43 “everyone* but Chris”

    #44 That’s a pity. If you read the first part in a metrum, the assonances are so handsome. The second sentence ruins the first, would you not say?

    #47 +comma

    #48 Though I would use it too, the “other” is unnecessary.

    #50 “Young ones”, perhaps? I like this opening.

    Okay, that was just some general thoughts (I have more elaborate responses for some of your other posts. In closing, these two notes:

    – #37, #29, #11, #12 and finally 19 are particularly good openings. 12 would make a good ending as well.

    – #22 I’d like to see used at some point.

    Always a pleasure.

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