Opening sentences

“Stanley Ketchel was twenty-four years old when he was fatally shot in the back by the common-law husband of the lady who was cooking his breakfast.”

The above opening sentence was written by John Lardner, a noted sports columnist of the 20th century. As a newspaper writer, he had to capture his audience with one shot (and still be mindful of the little kids who might read it) and pull them in to find out the rest of the story (thus buy the paper ). About the only thing missing for a modern audience (which everyone at the time would have known) was that Ketchel was a dominant force in boxing, a powerfully built man not to be messed with.

I wish the media still wrote like that. Shoot, I wish I did, too.

2 thoughts on “Opening sentences

  1. That intro sentence sure leaves me wanting to read the full story. And you’re right not many journalists write like that anymore. In fact most of them could easily be replaced by me and they should have a higher standard for writing than that.

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