I've been listening to the 10 minute writer's workshop podcast, and one of the questions they always ask is which is harder, the first sentence or the last.
My answer is the first sentence. There's a lot more to balance there. Nobody knows what you're talking about yet, and it's a lot harder to hook the fish than it is to bring him in the boat once he's already in a net.
The way I deal with it is to put in SOMETHING as the first sentence and then always go back and re-do it once I have a better idea where the story is going.
What say you? And how do you deal with whichever is your struggle?
As a reader, I think I've more often been turned off by the end of a story than really turned on by the very first sentence. If I'm reading a story, I've got at least a little time to devote, and I don't feel like I need to be "hooked" in order to devote that time I've already decided might be spent reading. (Of course, if nothing ever captures my interest, I may quit reading unless I have some reason to finish besides enjoyment.)
As a writer, the first line is often what I myself have to go on, in which case I might base other things on that opening. I've rewritten openings, but spent far less time on them overall than endings, I'd guess. I normally wouldn't finalize the final line without feeling the preceding has been finalized, therefore in most cases it would be the last thing I'd change on a piece before calling it finished. (That is to say, finished enough for whatever stage it's in.)
I guess... I'd say the last sentence.
But really, that's because the ending has been a harder thing for me to figure out. Discovery writing does that. But beginning sentences seem easy, you just start in the middle of an interesting scene.
I think the same can be said for every chapter...