Your intrepid blogger does not rest in his mission to provide you with the stimulus that means you will write better opening sentences for your articles: today I flicked through the opening sentences of two – count ‘em, two – sunday supplements to see how those paid good money to fill copy start their articles.
I found one example of ‘Imagine’:
Imagine you are put on a plane to Vietnam in 1968, at short notice, after early reports that the biggest battle of the war is raging between US and North Vietnamese forces. (Richard Beeston 29.12.12.)
I found an example of ‘in medias res’ too, albeit for an interview rather than an article:
Ruth Jones is talking about the time she met Elizabeth Taylor, whose look she recreated for this Times shoot. (Polly Vernon 29.12.12)
But there were many more. Caitlin Moran starts her article on the Fifty Shades of Gray phenomenon with a short, shocking – or at least unexpected statement:
I like pornography. (Caitlin Moran 16.06.12)
She goes on to qualify this with a few statements about the reach of the pornography industry. The opening sentence of the second paragraph works as well as an opener, too:
We live in a world of pornography – and that’s no bad thing. (Caitlin Moran, 16.06.12)
I’m not saying I agree with Miss Moran’s stance here, but when it comes to chatty openers, she keeps coming up with the goods. Here’s a third:
As a fan of pornography, then, I was delighted to hear the world has recently invented a new kind: “mummy porn”.
Nice syntactical-descriptive colon use there too (I hope you didn’t skip my post about colons a couple of days back!). But let’s open the windows, let some air in and move on to a cleaner, healthier topic – and another easily imitated opening sentence:
What with tweeting and blogging and frenetic social media communication, fashion trends seem to be changing every second these days. (Sarah Mower, 16.06.12)
Here’s another nice in media res:
An elderly woman is playing Beethoven’s Fur Elise, entirely from memory, with many virtuoso flourishes. (Janice Turner, 16.06.12)
And finally, there’s this tour-de-force by Giles Coren
In these days of accelerating globalisation, with a contiguous running down of cultural distinctions across physical boundaries, a dilution of national identity, the homogenising of language, companies becoming more financially significant than countries and the fluidity of trade being all that really matters, regardless of human individuation, does it really matter anymore where in the world a plate of food comes from? (Giles Coren, 29.12.12)
Here for handy reference are the sentences again, shorn of their content:
I like X.
We live in a world of X, and…
As an X, I was delighted to hear that Y
What with X these days, Y seems to be Z.
In these days of A, B and C, does X really matter?
Try to write an example opening sentence about something that interests you, using each of the above example structures.
*The above quotations were taken from the magazine supplement of the (London) Times of 16.06.12 and 29.12.12.