I'm on vacation, but I've seen the First Lines meme around and thought I would include some of the lines from the things I've got in progress at the moment. All of these are in some stage of drafting or revision, so these lines could change at any time.

From the story at the top of my mind:
No one really knows what happened to Alan Biggs, whether he slipped and fell into the quarry, or whether he jumped, or whether someone pushed him.

From the TNP (Totally New Project, which isn't actually New anymore, but that's what I've called it from it's inception):
It wasn’t my idea to go see Morrissey; it was my mother's.

From Electric Boogaloo (the sequel to The Book):
Football was exactly as boring as I thought it would be.

From the SENP (Super Exciting New Project):
Brandy Summers was by far the prettiest girl in school and she damn well knew it.

From my TRP (Totally Random Project):
The angels all died long ago.

I have a number of thoughts about first lines, but I have to go outside and lie in the grass and read a book now, so I'll tell you all of them later.


They certainly do make a fuss about first lines, don't they? Now, a really bad first line might make you think twice about reading the whole book (not me, I usually read until it gets much, much worse) but an average or even a good first line doesn't really pack as much a punch as literary types would like to believe.

Don't believe me? Start quoting first lines from memory. Write them down exactly as you remember them. As many as you can. Now, go find the original and see if you got it exactly right. Most people don't get very many right. Nothing wrong with that.

I just happen to think there are FEW great opening lines. It's the same with all the quotations authors like to include at the beginning of books, most of them are relevant to the story but soon forgotten.

For my money, 1984 probably has the single most effective opening line in literary history. Just a preference. It sets the tone, it's easy to remember, and it lets you know right away you're not in Kansas anymore.

I'll await further musings from you to see whether or not you agree with me that the whole first line business is a bit overrated. I think a story or book should try to have a first good line but I've read many interesting and wonderful things that did not begin with an awesome first sentence.

Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 2:29:00 PM EDT  

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