A Killer First Sentence #OpenBookBlogHop #MondayMusings #Inspiration

Welcome to another edition of Open Book Blog Hop. Here’s today’s question.

“The first sentence has to have a solid punch.” —Steve Berry from “Twisty Business” Let’s talk about it.

I agree. Just as breakfast, the first meal of the day, is important in order to start your day right, the first sentence in a novel, short story, essay, or poem is crucial to getting the reader’s attention.

Wyoming Writers, my state organization, holds a conference each year. One of the events during the conference is what they call a paddle panel. Participants present, anonymously, the first page from a work, which is read aloud by a moderator. Panelists hold up paddles during the reading to indicate whether or not they would read more and explain why. I’ve learned so much about how to start a story from this activity.

Here is, not only the first sentence, but the first paragraph from my latest book, Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me. If this doesn’t grab you, I don’t know what will. But if it does, see below for details.


I hated walking with my mom and sister down that long, bright hallway in the nursing home where my grandma lived. The white tile floor and the ceiling covered with fluorescent lights reminded me of school. The only difference was that there were handrails on either side that old people could hold onto while they walked, so they wouldn’t fall.


What about you authors out there? Do you think it’s important to hook a reader with that first sentence? You can click here to participate in this week’s hop and read other bloggers’ responses.

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. Her brown hair is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?









Author: abbiejohnsontaylor

I'm the author of three novels, two poetry collections, and a memoir. My work has appeared in various journals and anthologies. I'm visually impaired and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my totally blind late husband who was paralyzed by two strokes. Please visit my website at: https://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com

24 thoughts on “A Killer First Sentence #OpenBookBlogHop #MondayMusings #Inspiration”

    1. Hi Stevie and all. I agree. I’ve read books which started out with a bang, only to fizzle halfway through.
      I like a book which keeps the reader turning page after page and I can say that Abbie’s latest book will do that for you.
      What I’d like Abbie to talk more about is how she decided to start the book in that way.
      Because I believe talking about the writing process, especially with other likeminded people engages the potential reader and may very well lead them to read more.
      So Abbie, my advice to you is when you answer people’s comments, do so with engaging conversational remarks.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Since the main event in the story, the grandmother telling her teenaged granddaughter Natalie a family secret, takes place in the nursing home, I thought it would be a good idea to start by describing the facility from Natalie’s point of view.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Richard.

      My name is Patty Fletcher and I assist Abbie with the marketing of her books, so I hope when you have finished this and any of Abbie’s other works you might enjoy you’ll review them and also come back here to share what you think.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. After reading stories like “Little Red Riding Hood,” we all would like to walk to Grandma’s house. But since Natalie’s grandmother lives in a nursing home and no longer recognizes her, if Natalie were Little Red Riding Hood, she’d probably take that basket of goodies somewhere else. Thanks, P.J.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I think the idea of the first paragraph, page or few pages are important. More so than a singular sentence which, in isolation, might not be enough to hook the reader. That said, I feel if what follows is not great, you will loose the reader quickly.


    1. Hi, Steve. I’d have to agree with you completely.

      I tend to give a book about 2 chapters to truly suck me into the story but if by the end of the second one I’m not seriously engaged, the book is going to the bottom of my TBR pile and may or may not come back to the top.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, that’s if the book is not right for you and that’s not at all wat I said or what I meant.

        A book may be the right kind of book for me. It may even be something that I could give another chance to later on and so that’s why I said what I did.

        We’re not talking about whether a book is right for the reader. We’re talking about whether the book holds the reader’s interest and to my writer/reader mind those things are different as night and day.


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