Trying opening lines until one works

by Mr. Sheehy

I’m playing with more of the exercises Aimee Buckner mentions in Notebook Know-How, and I like in particular a pair that work on introductions. The two of note she calls Grabber Leads and Try Ten. The Grabber Leads idea is similar to the analysis of writing I’d explored recently and I might end up merging her plan with my own depending on the circumstances, as hers focuses primarily upon the opening sentence rather than the entire introduction, as mine does.

The Try Ten idea is fun, however, as a particular exercise of revision. It’s a simple idea–take your opening sentence and rewrite it 10 times, using the way you have it as number one. I gave it a shot, rewriting the opening to an article I’d recently written: “Blurring the lines between education and entertainment.”

Here are my 10 ways to open the article. Which do you think is best?

  1. On the way home today I stopped at the library to pick up more materials for the girls’ current unit of study, which is France, and which means my wife is attempting to broaden their minds to a realization that there is more in France than an annual bicycle race (that obsession would be my contribution—our favorite racer is Michael Cavendish).
  2. The only thing my girls knew about France was that bicycles race there.
  3. Ask my girls to mention everything they know about France, and they’ll tell you bikes race there. Then they’ll stop.
  4. I don’t know for sure that my girls knew France was a country and not just the name of a bicycle race.
  5. Education is a funny thing when you’re having fun.
  6. My kids are studying France, and we went to the library to discover what happens there besides a bicycle race.
  7. With the conviction that learning can be fun, I scoured the library for details about France.
  8. When you don’t know anything about a topic, almost anything can be interesting.
  9. The K on the imaginary KWL chart I created with my girls was fairly slim when our topic hit France: it’s the name of a bicycle race.
  10. Though I had decisions to make about what books to choose for my kids to study France, I wasn’t too worried about what to pick—I knew they’d love anything.
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