I just started reading A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire. As I read the first paragraph, I was reminded of how important that paragraph can be when you're trying to hook the reader/agent/editor. Here is the first paragraph of A Lion Among Men:
"The time came for her to die, and she would not die; so perhaps she might waste away, they thought, and she did waste, but not away; and the time came for her to receive final absolution, so they set candles upon her clavicle, but this she would not allow. She blasphemed with gusto and she knocked the scented oils across the shroud they'd readied on a trestle nearby."
This paragraph accomplishes quite a lot. It begins in a serious tone but soon alerts us that there will probably be a dash of humor (albeit black humor) sprinkled into the mix. I wonder who "she" is? She's dying and wasting, but still has enough spunk to knock things around. A religious rite seems to be involved (she's receiving final absolution), but she blasphemes "with gusto."
I'm eager to read on, but I realize not everyone would be. Maguire already has a following, but if he didn't, the publisher who picked up this book would have to believe that a large group of people would find this opening paragraph compelling.
Do you have an opening paragraph from your own work that you would like to share? It can be published or unpublished, finished or unfinished.
"The young man on the makeshift operating table was in bad shape. Dr. Mary Sloop held her breath as her husband, Dr. Eustace Sloop, made an incision. She stifled a gasp of dismay. Angry red inflammation and signs of infection told her the patient's appendix had ruptured; his condition was even more serious than she had feared."
Come on, somebody, start us off!