I don't particularly like saying that any one part of a story is more important than the next, but I do think it is worth noting that the very first sentence can either draw a reader in or push them away. Whether you're writing a 100,000+ word novel or a 3,000 word story, you first have to hook readers with your opening. As with all things writing-related, there's no objective right or wrong way to do this, but I find the best approach is a straight-forward, streamlined opening. A strong statement or image. A character in a clearly defined place and time. And don't feel like you need to explain everything in the opening. Beginnings writers often get bogged down with exposition in the first few pages. They want to explain or justify the action. This is almost always a mistake. Think of the first few lines as a series of arrows pointing the reader onward. Exposition points backwards. And you don't want to point backwards until you've established enough forward momentum. So, when you first start your story, or when you finish your draft and go back to revise the opening, think to yourself: forward, forward, forward. Cut anything that clutters or distracts from that forward movement.
Every Wednesday, as I draft my second novel, I will be posting writing tips, advice, and tough love reminders for myself and anyone who may need it. Feel free to share your own.