Episode 34

Chase Replogle

There's No Sentence Like The First Sentence

Writers pay attention to the first sentence. Writing great first sentences is an art worth practicing.
Writers pay attention to the first sentence. Writing great first sentences is an art worth practicing.
00:00 23:02

Show Notes:34. Chase Replogle — There’s No Sentence Like The First Sentence

I’m obsessed with the opening sentences of books. Working on this episode, I stood in front of my bookshelves for over 30 minutes opening book after book to reread the opening lines.

By no means does my interest in the topic mean I have mastered its execution, but for the sake of helping you learn to appreciate the masters, I want to work through some common approaches. It’s not exhaustive but here are six possible ways to approach first sentences.

  1. 1. Surprise!
  2. 2. The Dramatic
  3. 3. A Bit of Philosophy
  4. 4. With Voice
  5. 5. A Story
  6. 6. Detail, Detail, Detail

There are plenty of other ways to begin. What matters most is not that you choose from my list. What matters is that you take the time to make the most of your start.

Be intentional. How can you help a reader connect from the first words? Try different openings. Rearrange paragraphs, moving unexpected things to the front. Add detail. Drop a quote. Surprise your reader.

But more than anything else, I hope I’ve peeked your interest in gathering your own list of best opening sentences. I hope you’ll pay more attention to the opening sentences of the books you love.

  • I have a stained glass artist in my congregation who does incredible work. This past week, as a graduation gift, the congregation gave me this stained glass piece. It is of a bent oak tree like the one we named the church after. I listened as they explained how the church had been for them a bent oak, a tree designed to point towards safety and water. They are common in the Ozarks. Native Americans would tie down young trees and force them to grow in odd shapes as markers. I have always been impressed by their willingness to do that work, knowing that it might be only be later generations that would benefit from them. Still, it’s a weird name for a church. I know. But to hear people personally resonate with what moved me those many years ago was an incredible gift. And this stained glass piece is now one of my favorite possessions.
  • Last 3 years have been working on a doctorate of ministry in writing. Grateful for the time to study, write and for the great friendships.
  • Domes, pastries, paintings and our last day in Paris.
  • Germany was great. And I do love Paris.
I have a stained glass artist in my congregation who does incredible work. This past week, as a graduation gift, the congregation gave me this stained glass piece. It is of a bent oak tree like the one we named the church after. I listened as they explained how the church had been for them a bent oak, a tree designed to point towards safety and water. They are common in the Ozarks. Native Americans would tie down young trees and force them to grow in odd shapes as markers. I have always been impressed by their willingness to do that work, knowing that it might be only be later generations that would benefit from them. Still, it’s a weird name for a church. I know. But to hear people personally resonate with what moved me those many years ago was an incredible gift. And this stained glass piece is now one of my favorite possessions.
I have a stained glass artist in my congregation who does incredible work. This past week, as a graduation gift, the congregation gave me this stained glass piece. It is of a bent oak tree like the one we named the church after. I listened as they explained how the church had been for them a bent oak, a tree designed to point towards safety and water. They are common in the Ozarks. Native Americans would tie down young trees and force them to grow in odd shapes as markers. I have always been impressed by their willingness to do that work, knowing that it might be only be later generations that would benefit from them. Still, it’s a weird name for a church. I know. But to hear people personally resonate with what moved me those many years ago was an incredible gift. And this stained glass piece is now one of my favorite possessions.
1 week ago
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1/8
Last 3 years have been working on a doctorate of ministry in writing. Grateful for the time to study, write and for the great friendships.
Last 3 years have been working on a doctorate of ministry in writing. Grateful for the time to study, write and for the great friendships.
Last 3 years have been working on a doctorate of ministry in writing. Grateful for the time to study, write and for the great friendships.
Last 3 years have been working on a doctorate of ministry in writing. Grateful for the time to study, write and for the great friendships.
3 weeks ago
View on Instagram |
3/8
Domes, pastries, paintings and our last day in Paris.
Domes, pastries, paintings and our last day in Paris.
Domes, pastries, paintings and our last day in Paris.
Domes, pastries, paintings and our last day in Paris.
Domes, pastries, paintings and our last day in Paris.
Domes, pastries, paintings and our last day in Paris.
Domes, pastries, paintings and our last day in Paris.
Domes, pastries, paintings and our last day in Paris.
2 months ago
View on Instagram |
6/8
Germany was great. And I do love Paris.
Germany was great. And I do love Paris.
Germany was great. And I do love Paris.
Germany was great. And I do love Paris.
Germany was great. And I do love Paris.
Germany was great. And I do love Paris.
2 months ago
View on Instagram |
8/8

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