Monday, August 15, 2011

First Lines—Looking Back at My Own

I think too much can be said about first lines, but agree on a few things. It should be relevant to what follows. It shouldn't cheat to excite. It should get the hook in position.

Provoked by a fellow writer's blog about first lines, I compiled a list of the first lines of my various novels—smiled at one; decided at least three were intriguing enough to make most readers keep reading. That left me very disappointed.

What do you think:
Paul slid backward over the outcropping, digging his fingers into the rock for leverage. --Warlock Apprentice

Like everything that pops in my head, I have no idea how I acquired her life story in that instant. --Wheezy-the Medium of Casing, Florida

Margarite peered at the time displaying on her DVR and slugged the mattress. --Cockroach Crusade

Jason's eyes remained on the mountain of human skeletons. --New Order Apocalypse

Visitors with assault rifles were far from rare in my house, especially at midnight. --Revenir Intern

The stabbing pins of the shiver crawled over Jon's shoulders as he pulled into the driveway, like every other visit the past several weeks. --The Seeker

Fire and cinders fell from the thatched ceiling, smoke burned his eyes, seared his throat and made him cough. --Black Lake-Warlock

I needed to start swilling in moderation. --Living In Shadow

Of all Asahel's crimes, what irked Renee most, her peers considered trivial—his kith's flippant use of the repulsive term vampire. --Revenir Renee de Rais

The door to the dining room swung into the kitchen and slammed against the wall with a bang. --Black Lake-The Valley

The night breeze thrust the smoke of the pyre into the ogre's face. --Black Lake-Expiring Covenant

Bea ignored the doorbell, but whoever was outside escalated to a hard knock. --A Daughter's Shadow

Tony ducked and blocked the open-hand slaps. --Two Brothers-Two Shadows

Under the glare of his healers, Justen worked the battle sword, testing his ability to wield it left handed. --Nacelle at War

Burnt opium scorched Angel's sinuses. --Persona Kory Mae-Tail Kicker

Word that frogs returned from extinction, and learned to fly, was more likely to stay secret. --Persona Kory Mae-First Contact

A hoarse cackle of laugher to her right pricked at her attempt to relax. --Persona Kory Mae-L1060 Accord

Toni clicked send, and it was official. --Persona Kory Mae-Commission

Dannael shared her vision with her brother, of the two of them lying in the dry grass bloody, headless. --Lord Regent
Regards,
Mac
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Working on novel number nineteen!

10 comments:

  1. What an interesting exercise.

    I think I like these two best. They made me want to know more.


    I needed to start swilling in moderation. --Living In Shadow

    Burnt opium scorched Angel's sinuses. --Persona Kory Mae-Tail Kicker

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  2. Personally, my fav:

    Visitors with assault rifles were far from rare in my house, especially at midnight. --Revenir Intern

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  3. 'I needed to start swilling in moderation.' Priceless.

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  4. Yeah. That's the one that made me grin, too. ;O)

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  5. A nice summary/essay on first lines: http://writeoncon.com/2011/08/how-to-write-a-killer-first-sentence/

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  6. Loved this one:

    I needed to start swilling in moderation.

    Got a nice giggle out of that one...

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  7. cool! A giggle is worth three smiles. ;O)

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  8. First lines can be deceptive; they may sound exciting as a stand-alone, but the true test (in my opinion) is whether they stand the test of the next few sentences, or is overall descriptive of the novel.

    Oh yeah, I liked "I needed to start swilling in moderation" too. I'm an old wino . . But what I liked about it is the "characterization" it brought to my mind. I get an instant picture of the perspective character. Mickey Spillan's Mike Hammer; Porter from the movie Payback; Officer John McLane of Die Hard. But it did kinda feel like it better suited an opening transition from one chapter to another. An excellent line though, b/c I'm a character driven reader/writer, and this gives me a good sense of the character I'm about to meet. But, I have a lot of high expectations of the character, and could be easily disappointed if the plot concept doesn't live up to the character plot within the first few paragraphs.

    The two that really really grabbed me were: "Visitors with assault rifles were far from rare in my house, especially at midnight. --Revenir Intern" and "Like everything that pops in my head, I have no idea how I acquired her life story in that instant. --Wheezy-the Medium of Casing, Florida."

    Both of these felt like true beginnings to me. They were full of intimacy and intrigue without overwhelming me with pre conceptions of the character I don't yet know. They also introduce me to an overall plot concept that I'm sure will be developed over the course of the read.

    Its hard to explain my impressions; but you did ask :)

    Oh; Hi Mac *waves; smiles* Thanks for following on my blog - its very nice to meet you. This is the first post of your's I commented on - love the first lines - so you're probably reading a comment out of turn.

    Sorry; organization is not my strength. But I've been browsing around your blog and website and . . well, you know how it goes when you're checking out the new acquaintance.

    .......dhole

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  9. OK, I liked the first line of Wheezy so much I checked out the excerpt on you web site.

    Oh yeah, it lives up to expectation.

    .......dhole

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  10. Thanks for stopping by Donna, and for sharing your thoughts.

    I'm a fairly patient reader, so unless I feel the writer doesn't know her craft (I read a LOT of self-published work), is insulting, or I'm only getting a hint of a plot and it sounds stupid, the author has me for a few chapters.

    That said, marvelous turns of phrase, beautiful passages, profound thinking, and intrigue are good stuff to see anywhere.

    ta ta -- Mac

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