This little sentence, though poor Snoopy never seems to get past that section, is part of what's called a lead in writing.
A lot of people associate a lead with a news story, but in reality, nearly every work of writing has a lead. As for a technical definition, a lead is considered to be either the opening paragraph of something, or even just the very first sentence. It should grab the reader's attention and give them information in a clear, concise, and interesting manner. It leads the reader into the story; it leads the reader to want to read more. Hopefully, anyway. It should, at the very least, capture your interest and make you want to turn the page; it shouldn't make you want to throw the book across the room and run away from it like you're a chihuahua and Paris Hilton is coming to adopt you.
A good lead will "hook" the reader and get their immediate attention, and there are a variety of ways authors do this. A lot of us think about our story, and consider how we'd try to interest our best friend in reading it (aside from the fact that they're obligated to do so because of the best friend title).
We also give a lot of thought to where the story should start. What's the most interesting part of the story? What information is essential to give to the reader initially so that they'll want to keep reading? Using an interesting fact, well-placed action verbs, or a humorous or provocative perspective can help with all of this. Maybe even throw in a little conflict. But, the thing to remember, is to attempt not to be cliche. Sorry, Snoopy. I'd rethink that lead if I were you.
This article here is very helpful for learning the ins and outs of lead-writing. Often, the first sentence is the hardest one to get down.
Here are a few leads from successful works:
''If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.'' ~The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
''Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.'' ~Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, J.K. Rowling
"When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim's warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping." ~The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
|"For the love of Jesus on a Velociraptor, tell me what happens next!|
I had trouble picking some leads to show you because there were so many good ones, but these three really grab you. You want to know more! Who is this smart-ass, snarky narrator, and what doesn't he want to tell us? Who are the Dursleys, why do we need to know where they live, and why are they so happy to be normal? Why is the narrator sleeping with her sister, and for God's sake, what is a reaping, because it sure doesn't sound like a good thing if it gives her sister nightmares!
Personally, I like to start my stories in the middle of something. Some action is taking place, and I like to plop the reader down right in the middle of it. Something's going down, and I want the reader sucked in as quickly as possible; I want them to feel like they can't not find out what's going to happen next. Of course, I make sure to give them essential information, but I try my best to keep everything short and sweet. There will be plenty of time later for explanations, and I make sure I give that to the reader as well.
What kind of lead grabs you? Or, if you're a writer, how do you like to write your leads? What's going to get you interested in an article/entry/short story/novel? Tell me!