“My friends and I have been looking at your arms and we wondered if you were maybe a wrestler?”
As the startled recipient of this line, I can attest to its brilliance. I’ve never forgotten it. For the record, I am not, and never have been a wrestler.
But there are a number of superb techniques deployed in that unconventional line. And if you want to pique your reader’s interest, there’s a lot we can learn from bold Mr-Wrestler-Jester.
It’s an unusual way to begin a conversation. It’s different. It’s not every day I’m asked if I’m a wrestler. A surprising or unconventional word in the first line conjures a little intrigue.
Get straight to the point. You might be afforded a few words to set the scene, but I want to know fairly quickly why you’ve sat yourself next to me so boldly.
Your reader wants to know what you’re going to tell them. Immediately. Don’t waste precious reading seconds waffling through your scene-setting.
Ask a question
Ask a question and it’s a natural human response to want to answer it. It adds a conversational flavour to your writing. You’re now in dialogue with your reader. And if it’s a strange enough question, there’ll be a lot more ground to cover beyond the factual answer.
“My friends and I have been looking at your arms”… That opener raises a few questions, doesn’t it? How did your discussions begin? How did you arrive at ‘wrestler’ as the lead suspect in the arm mystery? How do I feel about this conversation happening about me, out of ear-shot? Why have you been sent over to ask it?
Asking a question that raises other questions invites your reader to find out if / how their missing information is abridged.
You remember the things that make you laugh.
That poor man chasing after “Fenton!”
Those Potter puppet pals gleefully singing “Snape. Snape. Severus Snape…Dumbledore!”
All the remixes ever made of Sweet Brown saying “ain’t nobody got time for that”.
Almost a decade later, those things still make me laugh.
When it’s appropriate for the brand and style, a line that invokes a little chuckle can make you more memorable.
I’ve often told the story of the guy that sort-of chatted me up by asking if I was a wrestler. I’m telling the story now! I still think it’s funny and unusual.
Do you want to know how to write engaging content? You want to write something that people will tell their friends about. You want your reader to share your article, novel, insightful marketing analysis… Pop something in there that makes your reader want to repeat it.
If it’s a killer opening line, you’re onto a winner.
Speak to me about how to write engaging content for your website, blog or other marketing materials. Feel free to use an unusual opening line. Otherwise a simple “hello” will do nicely.