First paragraphs are fundamental to the story and need to "hook" the reader in. If the first paragraph doesn't grab you, then why would you read further? The first paragraph is where you are introduced to the tone of the story and sets the stage by introducing the main character(s) and giving information to entice us to continue reading.
Three stories that have strong first paragraphs that draw us in and help us understand the character and story are: "A Sick Call" by Morley Callaghan, "A Bird In The House" by Margaret Laurence, and "One Evening" by David Helwig.
In the first paragraph of "A Sick Call" we are introduced to Father Macdowell, a "huge, old priest" who "was a bit deaf in one ear". We are also told that "nothing seemed to shock or excite him, or make him really angry". Thus, it appears that something later on in the story may test Father Macdowell's fortitude and we are drawn to read on. When we do, we discover why his size and deafness are important.
In "A Bird In The House", the first paragraph introduces us to Vanessa, the main character, and tells us that she has skipped an important parade. The time of year is also pinpointed by mentioning the Remembrance Day parade and the "snowy wind". This makes us want to read on to discover why Vanessa missed the parade and what made it, and the time of year, so important to her family.
Miss Machry, in "One Evening", is described to us right away in the first paragraph. We get the sense of her character in the way she "waved the old Japanese fan", because the fan was delicate and it could only be preserved by "the gentlest of handling". The fan is the link to her mother and father and how she had come to this moment. Miss Machry is looking out the window and waiting on someone "there was no sign of him yet." We are driven to read on to find out whom she is waiting on and how she is as delicate as her fan.
In all three stories' first paragraph we are introduced to...