One thing I love to work on with my middle school writers is how to write a fantastic first line. First we start by brainstorming what type of things might make an interesting first line. Then, I set out copies of the "50 Best First Lines in Fiction" as collated by Gawker.
Each student or pair of students choose a line that they find interesting. Then, they use the First Line Analysis Worksheet to think about why the line grabbed their attention. What senses did it appeal to? What information did it give away about the novel? What tone did it set?
I set all of these fantastic first lines and analysis up as a bulletin board for students to review. Then, when they write their own first lines, we continue to workshop them until they have that punch. Finally, I choose the strongest one and run a contest, asking other students which novel they would be most likely to read, based on just the first line.
The students had so much fun voting.
50 Best First Lines in Fiction - Printable
First Line Analysis Worksheet
First Lines Bulletin Board