My (least) Favorite Things

Stop the madness! Let’s get some quality going in the first line of your kids’s paragraphs.

Because people believe that the opening topic sentence is supposed to be a generalization that the subsequent sentences in the paragraph unpack, the “I love spaghetti” opening is by far the most popular with kids. It requires no real commitment or depth and covers a multitude of trite supporting sentences.

The other common (aka: boring) opening line (which is more like a warm-up than a real topic sentence) is the “Roller blading is my favorite sport.”

“I love…”

“My favorite is…”

What’s wrong with these stand-bys?

  1. Too general
    The mind prefers complexity and detail to generalizations. When reading, we hook into language that causes the imagination to work. These statements numb the imagination.

  2. Too much
    Where can the writing go after you’ve told me you love spaghetti or roller blading is your favorite sport? We’re finished. The end is known and we can go home.

    Better writing leads me on a journey to a surprising end. I might anticipate where the journey will take me, but I don’t want a sledge hammer of information right at the beginning. Seduce me, provoke me, hook me, surprise me.

  3. Too flat
    Strong opening lines have curves. They are three dimensional:

    The noodle dangled from my lips as my father leaned toward me to slurp the other end. The race was on. Who would reach the middle first and suck it out of the other one’s mouth?

    Beginning with an experience creates that 3D image better than a statement of incontrovertible fact.

So now you know.

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