‘The sun goes down at end of day everywhere in the world but nowhere is it more beautiful than at Captiva Bay, a small island off the coast of Florida’, could be a first sentence in a first paragraph in a travel publication. The idea in this slant is to snag the reader into reading about this coastal areas and therefore possibly making that their next vacation destination.
Writing is enclosing primary thoughts about a subject as a way of introducing the article, the article, the report, etc., to the reader. The paragraph is the hook, or the open door, the sign, that tells readers what they will miss if they stop fishing for ideas, walk on by, unable to grasp the sign’s message. The first sentence is most important, it’s not exactly an open door but it’s the first step toward it. The second backs up the claim the first sentence shouts out by showing why that statement was made.
As an example of the first sentence about the Captiva vacation site mentioned above being more beautiful than elsewhere in the world, the second sentence would mention the local custom of vacationers gathering at the beach to observe and awe over such a spectacle. Most people would never have heard of such a common everyday event being turned into a dramatic setting. Ideally, the article’s purpose will have been fulfilled by the readers buying into the delight and mystery of this island. They will read further and hopefully, if the article’s purpose has accomplished its destiny, not only readers but potential vacationers will be heading to the West coast of Florida sometime in the near future.
Each succeeding sentence will continue the thought while adding more to the picture being created. In today’s writing and rapid reading and fast paced world few have time for long drawn out paragraphs. Three, four or five will suffice. A longer sentence or two with three or four shorter sentences all bracing the first sentence will be the opening sentence. Traditionally, paragraphs ended when the thought veered too far into another direction, that’s not necessarily true today. The Internet and the need to be brief and concise and the slight discomfort of reading long paragraphs, demanded breaks between paragraphs.
The first paragraph of an article is compared to an introductory chapter of a book. To carry that further, each succeeding paragraph is compared to chapters in a book. Creativity and introduction define first paragraphs. It’s as if the writers often must momentarily stand on their heads to get attention.
But even though first paragraphs are important, the rest of the article must be worthy and it must follow through with what it promises. After all necessary information has been presented in the body of the article the ending must also leave a pithy and lasting impression if the idea presented is to be remembered. This happens because living words demand to be useful and informative and this only happens when they are placed in the right order.
The same with nature, the sun rises in the east and sets in the West. It’s the way with the world all over, everything must have a beginning and an ending, and writing is no different. It’s what it does in between these two extremes that make all the difference. Thus in article writing, the first paragraph is the rising of the sun; the last sentence is the setting of the sun. If the tale is told right, both will have lasting effects and the middle will have been purposeful because their first paragraph started right and their finale was dutifully noticed.