Always the First Paragraph

I just read this on MFA admissions. If you don’t grab ’em with the first paragraph in your writing sample, you’re all done. I think he says 75-85 percent of applications are thrown out immediately after the first paragraph. It makes sense. It’s the same way with any fiction, really. If you’re not grabbed right away, why go on to read the rest?

2 thoughts on “Always the First Paragraph

  1. Melissa Allen

    People often criticize me for saying that I decide whether I want to read books based on my reading of the first paragraph, but in my experience — especially since writers are coached over and over on writing strong first paragraphs — there is virtually no chance that a book will improve from there. And life is too short to waste more than one minute on bad writing.


    1. jtsullivan Post author

      Amen. I think the first paragraph or first page should make the book take flight. Some kind of electricity has to be generated right away, otherwise there’s nothing to propel me forward.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s