The annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest just announced their winner. The purpose of the contest, sponsored by San Jose State University, is to award the best bad opening to an imaginary novel. Not only is it a great creative writing exercise but it is also an excellent reminder of the importance of an opening line.
Click here to read the wining entry and the runners up.
The purpose of any opening line is to hook the reader. However, hooks cannot be forced, nor can they be randomly added to the beginning or end of a chapter. A hook that does not seem logical will only frustrate a reader instead of catching their attention. Hooks must develop out of the story and seem as much a natural part of the content as a "he said." It's an interesting skill to learn, especially in today's competitive writing market when an opening line may make the difference between being published and not being published.