How to write an opening para

All writers know that the hardest thing is the opening few sentences. Get them right, and you’re away. This opener in the New Yorker by Elizabeth Kolbert is a classic example of how to do it.

Americans have never met a hydrocarbon they didn’t like. Oil, natural gas, liquefied natural gas, tar-sands oil, coal-bed methane, and coal, which is, mostly, carbon—the country loves them all, not wisely, but too well. To the extent that the United States has an energy policy, it is perhaps best summed up as: if you’ve got it, burn it.

America’s latest hydrocarbon crush is shale gas…