I normally don’t buy a book unless the first paragraph wows me. Do you?
The indispensable first paragraph draws the reader into your world of ideas and principles, stories and lessons. Whether you’re writing a memoir, a devotional, a Bible study, a Christian living book, or any other kind of non-fiction book, craft a first paragraph that wows the reader and makes them want to step into your “world.” Here’s how.
- Write tight.
Don’t bog the reader down with too much detail in the first paragraph. This is your chance to open the door that looks into your world of ideas. Don’t make the door too heavy to budge.
- Show, don’t tell.
Don’t tell them that they need your book—share a story that illustrates why they do. Or give an alarming statistic. Include a picture of the people you’re writing about. Let the reader “see” with their mind’s eye why they need to keep reading your book.
- Be an artist.
As you paint a picture of why someone should read your book, use the best colors. Pick vibrant words to make your point. Use bold strokes to get their attention when needed, and finish the paragraph with subtle movements to keep them reading. Don’t give away everything in the first paragraph, but gently point them to the next one. Keep them moving through your world of illustrations and ideas.
- Engage the mind, and touch the heart.
When someone considers buying a non-fiction book, they are probably wanting to deepen their knowledge of a particular subject. So engage their brains. But don’t forget to engage their hearts. People are often motivated to action because they sympathize with a need, hate an injustice, worry about a problem, or love a cause. Connect with their minds and their hearts as you introduce your subject. You will probably need your whole first page to do this, but get started in the first paragraph as you share a story, give an alarming statistic, or ask a thought-provoking question.
- Use the most effective voice.
What voice, or style of writing, best suits your purposes? If you’re seeking to warn, find the wording that acts as a wake-up call to the reader. If your purpose is to encourage, write as though you are speaking to a friend. If you’re sharing a story to begin your book, be the narrator that peers into the lives of the people you’re describing and unfolds the plot layer by layer. Choose the right voice that will appeal to your target audience and will effectively deliver your message.Open the door to your world of ideas--5 elements that make an indispensable first paragraph. Click To Tweet
Which of these 5 elements would you like to see in a book’s first paragraph? Which appeals the most to you? Share in the comments below, and happy writing. The indispensable first paragraph—never write a book without it!