Many creative writing classes and manuals will stress the importance of the first sentence, that it must grab the reader’s attention. Even Hemingway espoused this fallacy. But the first sentence is never enough.
Yes, it must grab the reader’s attention, If it doesn’t the reader will go elsewhere. There are plenty of options — but if the second sentence is flaccid, all will be lost. The second sentence fulfills the promise of the first.
But it is the third sentence that seals the deal. The third sentence assures the reader that the writer is authentic, that they are worth listening to, that they have something to say and have the command of language to say it with flair and authority. They can be trusted.
After that the writer will be ‘in full swing’. The reader will be committed; will go along for the ride.
There was someone sitting at our table. This was the second time in less than a month that this had happened. My friend in the wheelchair was ropable but I suggested, good old level-headed me, that we cool it.
Mind if we sit at our table? I asked.
Be my guest, he said quaffing his ale.
We won’t bother you, I said and then after we got our beers we became companionable.
Our friend introduced himself.
Steve, he said extending his arm for a handshake. I didn’t want to seem prissy and Covidy, so I shook it with all the manliness I could muster. [I go to gym :)]
Unlike our former usurper, the bloke with a book, Steve was not a reader. He was a man of action who spent much of his life as a pneumatic/hydraulic mechanical engineer working in mines throughout Queensland and W.A.
He was a good drinker too, downing four pints to our one. And he was still lucid and like our former companion a Catholic who still attended mass.
How come, I said to my mate after, we always end up with Catholics?
And loners, he said.
Maybe it says more about us than them? I suggested.
You hear those gunshots last night, Matt? Boom, boom, boom , one after the other. Six in a row.
Firecrackers, he chuckled. The kids down the road.
What! You killed the romance, Matt. I had a great piece of flash fiction on the go: about an active shooter on the prowl, a gang fight … it was going to be a ripper. I was up half the night writing it. I couldn’t sleep.
You can still do a great piece of flash fiction, John. Just make it comic, not horror. A good writer can do that.