For beginning writers, I cannot say loud enough or enough times: read the publications. All of them. Including Cat Fancy.
It also goes for published, aspiring professional writers. Read all the professional level publications. Not all the way through; just enough to know what their editors are looking for.
Everyone else says this, too.
I don’t recall ever being told what I’m about to tell you.
First, here’s what I learned and how I learned it.
I was tempted for years to go out and conquer all the pro level publications. If I am a professional, I figured, I should be able to published anywhere. So many big names seem to swagger from ToCs of “F&SF” to dark erotic anthologies to cute YA publications! Surely that flexibility is a hallmark of the true writer.
Such things are not working for me.
There are publications I would not read for fun. There are publications which I find to be holy shrines where I slap myself in the forehead and say “Oh God, what is this?” Plots where little seems to happen, or are lists broken by typesetting and layout, or blatantly not in their professed genre.
Many times I thought “Ha! The style of this pub is such piddling stuff! I can write a story and show them up!”
Don’t do it! Don’t! I wasted so much time doing this.
While spite has gotten me out of bed more times than I can count, I can only write what I want to read.
I found through enough rejection letters and workshop crits that if I didn’t like writing the story, no one will like reading it.
The first ten years of writing for me was not only finding my style, but also finding my audience, then becoming comfortable with the results of that style.
You will find an editor who will respond to what you write and give you advice. Keep sending to that editor. If that editor buys what you write, keep sending to that editor. Do not bother to send to others just to see if you can “get in”.
Learning to write publishable work means finding what you like to write, the ways to write it, and what rules you can break to create your own style. It also means finding the venues which best suit your style.
So: Finding your editors will be just as important as learning how to seize attention with your opening line.