For my most recent writing class (I’ve kind of become addicted to them) our assignment was to write a perfect first sentence to start our novels. I, of course, thought “Psh, one sentence, that’s so easy! I could do this in my sleep.” According to our professor, this first sentence is our “hook” and the most important sentence in the entire project.
Okay, so he put a little more pressure on us, but really, this assignment was a cake walk.
Or so I thought at the time.
I immediately grabbed a piece of paper and jotted down a few sentences, and I thought “Ta-da! I’m done. Easy-peasy.” The next morning I actually looked at what I had written for my opening line. . . . . . and winced.
It wasn’t that the opening I wrote was that bad, it’s just that it’s so generic. Really the hook I wrote could work for any book, and that’s the problem. It doesn’t really grab the reader. It doesn’t hint at the story to come. It’s not even that interesting.
Here’s what I wrote:
“This is a story about me doing something stupid. This is a story about me learning lessons. This is a story about me not listening to someone I really should have and listening to every word of someone I really shouldn’t have. This is about abandonment. This is about love. This is about revenge. Most importantly, this is a story about how I got locked into a refrigerator.”
Wow, now that I see it all typed out, it looks even worse.
The funny thing is, I always thought I knew exactly how to write an opening line. I actually thought I was pretty good at writing hooks. But, now that I’ve been properly taught out to write an opening line, I can’t do it. Now everything I write for the hook just looks boring, or childish, or cliché.
Is there such a thing as un-teaching yourself to write?