Often times I struggle with writing my opening sentence. Appellate opinions often start out and finish in a predictable and boring manner.
I received this advice from my church’s weekly email:
“An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story,” says novelist Stephen King. “It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.”
This is why the Books of Genesis and John are two of my favorites. How does God invite us into His story? “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1); and “In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God. He was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1-2)
To a reader standing on the first sentences of these Books, the story already sounds confident, assured, and rock-hard. “In the beginning,” suggests to me a stability in the narrative. Intuitively I interpret His story as purposed for something good, as headed somewhere safe. And then I read the rest of these Books, and find that there are ups and down, successes and failures in life; but God’s providential, divine plan continues to unfold throughout the centuries.
This is very good advice. A legal case, especially in the appellant’s brief, is a new beginning a fresh start. Tell a story. Make the reader want to read. If its a boring story, tell it in a concise manner.