First sentences must seduce. The opening line of your copy is like a corporate pick-up line - it must draw your audience in and it must draw them in immediately.
It doesn't matter if you're writing a magazine article, internal business communication, press release, or copy for your website, that all-important opening determines if people will keep reading or give up.
Here are five tips for nailing that first line:
1. Keep it lean. The very first line of this blog is just four words long. The establishing sentence is a hook - it must be crisp and confident. Example: The rise of the hybrid author is disrupting the publishing industry.
2. Tell 'em what you're gonna tell 'em. Don't waffle in your first lines. Let the reader know what valuable information you're going to share. Example: You can find the right man with online dating.
3. Ask an intriguing question. Another way to hook the reader is to pose a question that your target audience wants answered. Example: What if you could write a novel in just 30 days?
4. Start with a statistic. You can use some of your research or metrics to craft a powerful opener for your email or press release. Example: 3,654 sales in January alone without a single store - Acme's online experience is proving a hit with customers.
5. The disruptive sentence. A touch of the subversion or misdirection is great way to take the reader off guard and entice them to read on. You take them in one direction and then pull the rug from under them. Example: If you want to know the secret to weight loss, you've come to the wrong blog.
The first line is found after the last line
The trick to writing a great opening is not to agonise over it before you start writing. First finish your draft, then spend some time brainstorming or free writing some ideas. You'll find it when you have a sharper picture of your story, your audience, and your message.If you want to improve your business writing skills, join The Plain Language Programme.