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How to Write a First Sentence that Draws Readers In

life coach bonnie leonard
Life Coach Bonnie Leonard, Creator of The Reinvent Your Life – Write Now journaling program

Here’s a great short book writing tip I had to share.

After a bit of a false start with her first chapter, Bonnie Leonard returned to book writing class the next week having begun again. She shared a brilliant strategy I plan to try myself:  she asked herself how she could start her book–and each chapter–with a line that immediately drew in her readers.

Bonnie’s solution was to write down the first line of 15  books she had around the house and see which ones worked and why.

The result? When she shared her first sentences in class, we all agreed they were winners. Here are a few:

  • travel photos
    David Donohue’s travel photos just lend themselves to Bonnie’s travel stories. More of David’s photos at
    • “I headed for my destination with a quickened pace and single-minded focus…”
  • “After the dinner of a lifetime, I wandered slowly back to my current residence – a family guest house in Bangalore.”
  • “The taxi driver dropped off the two other passengers at Hong Kong’s luxurious hotel, The Peninsula, then turned to ask me for a third time, ‘What address, hotel?'”

I love the last one, as you just know you’re in for an off-the-beaten-track adventure when the taxi driver can’t place the hotel. The whole chapter is filled with humor.

Journal cover
Bonnie’s Course: Reinvent Your Life: Write Now

Try it yourself. Find ten books you enjoyed and books that have done well and write down the very first sentence.

Which ones grab you? See if you can figure out why they do. What did you learn?

What might you do to draw your readers in?

Note: Bonnie Leonard is a certified Life Coach and former Dean of Continuing Education at Wellesley College. You can find out more about Bonnie’s new nine-week journaling program, Reinvent Your Life ~ Write Now, which emerged from her years of experience empowering women to create new lives for themselves.

Please share your first sentences below (or any writing tips as well).

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions


  1. Keith Miller says

    Lisa, I landed on this post from someone’s tweet…isn’t it funny when we run into each other in the social web randomly?!

    Great stuff and thanks for putting such cool tips like this out here!

  2. Lisa Tener says

    That is funny, Keith. I assume this means you’re writing? Let me know if you have any book writing questions.

  3. Michelle Quillin says

    Lisa, this would also make a great exercise for bloggers! I know there are some bloggers who grab my attention right away, first with their titles, and then with that first sentence.

  4. Patty Black says

    Crafting a captivating first sentence is an art crucial to engaging readers from the start. Seeking guidance from a critical analysis writer online can provide valuable insights into effective techniques and strategies. By analyzing successful examples and understanding the psychology of readers, writers can master the skill of crafting opening sentences that intrigue, captivate, and compel readers to delve deeper into the narrative.

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