You should already know to avoid adverbs throughout your writing, but did you know there are some sneaky ones that don’t end in ‘ly’? For examply, the word “this” can function as an adverb. (See: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/this)
Everybody go ‘Boo! Hiss!’.
So here are three grammar rules for first lines that I’ve gleaned from my sources and distilled for your reading pleasure.
Rule #1: Don’t use adverbs in your writing. If it can be said with an adverb, it can be said stronger another way since the only function of adverbs is to strengthen weak verbs.
Again, everybody go ‘Boo! Hiss!’.
Rule #2: Use pronouns sparingly in your first lines. Generally, the more specific your language is the better.
Lets look at an example:
- He gathered up this strange coat into his arms.
- Ronald gathered up the strange, patchwork coat into his arms.
Which example do you think is stronger?
Of course there are exceptions to every rule. Consider the following:
- On February 24th, 2005 he remembered that his daughter’s boyfriend was coming over at about 6:15 that night and decided to get his gun out for cleaning.
- Today Samuel remembered that April’s boyfriend was coming over this evening and decided to get his gun out for cleaning.
Again, which is stronger?
Rule #3: Stronger verbs mean a stronger emotional response in the reader. Robert Frost has a great quote on this: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.”
So, how about this next example:
- I watched when this thing bearing teeth came out of the hole.
- I recoiled as a creature bearing teeth came out of the hole.
Which comes across as stronger?