You need to set the scene, establish a mood. Like ‘It was a dark and stormy night’, only I think that that’s been used!
But there could be a variation on that theme. How about ‘He was a dark and stormy Knight’?
Possibilities there, but more for a fantasy, I’d think. This is supposed to be a contemporary thriller. So maybe…
‘Rain lashed furiously at the window, driven by the howling gale outside.’
Better. Still a bit clichéd. ‘Rain lashed’ and ‘howling gale’, for example. I could change the words and still use the idea, though.
“Gale driven rain hammered furiously at the window.”
But perhaps the whole idea of starting in a storm is overdone? Maybe I should go for something more subtle? Something bright and peaceful, to mark the contrast with evil deeds!
‘Bright sunlight poured into the room.’
No. For an opening line, I want something striking, something that will get attention.
‘Morning sunlight oozed stealthily round the edges of the curtain…’
Yes! I like that!
‘… bringing out gentle highlights in the polished brass ornaments…’
‘and showing up the contrast between plain beige carpet and the spreading pool of crimson…’ no, make that ‘bright’ – ‘bright crimson blood.’
That works! Though it’s a bit long for an opening sentence. Would it work better if I split it up? Made it punchier?
‘Morning sunlight oozed stealthily round the edges of the curtain. Its soft touch brought out gentle highlights in the polished brass ornaments. And the sharp contrast between plain beige carpet and bright crimson blood.’
Not so sure about that. Too many ‘ands’ in that last sentence, for a start.
But in any case, it might be the wrong approach. It’s too early in the story for the gory bits. I want to establish the main character first, and show the violence as a contrast to their normal life. It’s about an ordinary person, inexorably drawn in to extraordinary events.
I need to think this through. What’s this person like?
Male, I think. Say, mid-thirties. Young enough to be reasonably active, old enough to have a bit of life experience. Married, comfortably well off. Self-employed? That would give some flexibility on use of time, which might come in handy later on. But what does he do?
Something arty, perhaps. A painter? The trouble with that is, I don’t know that much about painting! ‘Write what you know’ is the general rule. A good rule, especially if you don’t like doing research.
So make him a writer, then! Moderately successful, but not a big name. Not yet. Working on a new book. Right! I just need an opening line that will show some of that… Ah! Got it!
“The most difficult part of writing, he found, was the opening line.’