With the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award looming on the horizon, in progress, everyone seems obsessed with their first line, their first page, their first chapter. Yours truly isn’t exempt from this and after recently submitting my first line to an agent on her blog for critique, I started thinking even more about it.
Then Tami from my writer’s group brought an article that listed the items someone/many someones have decided your first page needs. Again, I started thinking about my own and those within the group, but I also wondered about my favorite authors. What do their first lines, first page, first chapters look like.
And what do you think the agent said about this wonderfully mastered line? To begin, she said it’s two sentences.
Her clothes were strewn all over the room. (this would be the first sentence. Agree?) Alex bent down to pick up the pencil skirt, and then her bra, a few feet away, tossed over an armchair. (second sentence.)
Second question, why would I start my novel with this information? Why? Because it’s setting the scene. I’m giving the reader a basic of who Alex is through this scene without having to use back story exactly. Am I right? Subjective. What if I delete the first part of my first sentence and start with Alex? Better?
Now on to more important things, and no, I’m not going to go over the first page of the novel, but I am going to look at a few of my favorite author’s or maybe just my favorite book’s, first lines.
- It’s hard to imagine what my parents were thinking when they decided to name me Shakespeare.
- On my seventh birthday, my father swore, for the first of many times, that I would die face down in a cesspool.
- There are some men who enter a woman’s life and screw it up forever.
- It was raining in Richmond on Friday, June 6.
- The boy couldn’t see in the dark, but he didn’t need to.
- The Chevy Suburban sped down the road, enveloped by the hushed darkness of the Virginia countryside.
- The Breeze blew into San Junipero in the shotgun seat of Billy Winstons Pinto wagon.
- You couldn’t look at her and not be proud, Red Wegener told himself.
- He moved the cursor and stopped on the printer icon.
- For a long time, I wanted to be a cartoonist.
Based solely on the above first lines, would you keep reading? Why?
Below is the title of the book followed by the author with a link to one or the other. Some of these are pretty big names, others one day will be. 1. (Spanking Shakespeare by Jake Wizner) 2. (Flesh and Spirit by Carol Berg) 3. (One for the Money by Janet Evanovich) 4. (Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell) 5. (Black Echo by Michael Connelly) 6. (The Camel Club by David Baldacci) 7. (Practical Demonology by Christopher Moore) 8 (Clear and Present Danger by Tom Clancy) 9. (a Cold and Dark Christmas by Jeffery Hollar) 10. (Confessions of a Freelance PenMonkeyby Chuck Wendig)