First Impressions

The old saying about how important first impressions can be still holds true - and in so many ways.

I was thinking it a few days ago, when I had the privilege of visiting Chudleigh Primary School to guest edit an edition of their local magazine with the youngsters as my reporters.

We had a jolly time learning about how to be a journalist (as ever I learnt plenty myself), and managed to do a decent job on the publication.

Here are some of my news team - please excuse the strange lighting effect, not quite sure how that happened.

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I've visited a fair few schools now and you quickly know which are going to be the best - reception are ready for you, you're greeted and escorted to your destination and the head makes a point of introducing themselves.

It's not always the case, but I can happily say it was at Chudleigh and made for a great start to the day, putting me at ease immediately.

First impressions are also so important with books. I've got a bit of a thing for the opening line of a novel - when I teach, I do a whole section on first lines.

And lately that minor obsession has grown even further to the extent that I now spend plenty of time trying to make the first line to every chapter a compelling one.

(I often do it while brushing my teeth, in case you were wondering. Or maybe you didn't need to know that..)

The first impressions thing goes even further than opening lines, of course - hence publishers spending so much time getting the cover of a book right, not to mention the blurb on the back.

It's one of the important things I covered with the youngsters when we talked about being a hack - making sure the first line of their report was good enough to make a reader want to carry on and find out more.

And it's the case in teaching, too. One of my group at Winchester last month told me - We knew you were going to be fun to work with within the first few minutes of the whole day. 

Which I hope is a compliment, even if I haven't yet truly worked out what she meant!