Here I am, on my third restart of my current WIP, which is to be a follow up of the manuscript I submitted last November, and am still waiting to hear back about.
I rarely rework the opening of a novel so vigorously. I'm rather baffled by it and am busy not enjoying wondering if *this* time I've gotten it right. Beginnings are sooooooooo important. They set up the basic foundation for the rest of the story, introduce the characters, outline the conflict to come, set the tone for the entire work and, most importantly, is what draws the reader in and keeps them reading...or, if you're unlucky, putting the book down.
Never give the reader a reason to put the book down. If they have to stop reading, then there must be something about the story you're telling to draw them back, entice them to pick the book up again. It sounds so simple, yet it's really not. The story must compel. Excite. Yes, sometimes even titillate. It must pose questions the reader wants to find the answers for - it must entice.
The beginning is the foundation that sets the groundwork to support the rest of the story. I won't say it's the most important part of the novel, because every part of it is equally important - as writers, we need to give the readers a reason to continue reading and to come back for more of our work. But that first line, leading into the rest of your story? It's gotta grab.
Here are a few of my favorite opening lines, found at THIS website:
There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. - C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)