Friday, March 30, 2012

Opening Statements

Yesterday in her post at Murder She Writes, Allison Brennan spoke about the first lines of novels.  And yeah, she does say that it doesn't always have to be the very first line that draws you in.  Still, there's something to be said for a really awesome first line.  Lord knows, I strive to make my first line as zippy as humanly possible - and the rest of the book meet the expectation that first line sets.  (Don't we all?)

So, thinking about that today, I decided to post some of my first lines and some first lines of novels I've read recently.

First me...

Djinnocide: No one ever asked me if I wanted to be a genie. (Still in revisions, so this isn't set in stone.)

Unequal: Rue Logan’s work boots squelched in the sticky red mess.

Blink of an I: The twisted hulk stretched into the air above her like a man straining to grasp the hand of a loved one being pulled away.

Dying Embers: As she approached the twisted Mercedes’ wreckage, its cracked side mirror winked at her as if they shared some unspeakable secret.

RTL: “Congratulations, Miss Lind, you’re going to be a mother.

Fear Itself: "We're on in two."

Nature of Destruction: "This is ludicrous."

Not all the most grabbyful first sentences, but even the least grabby of those flows from that to present an overall hook in the first couple paragraphs (I would hope). And yeah, I caught that both Unequal and Dying Embers start with describing something as twisted.

Now for some other author's first lines:

Doubletake by Rob Thurman (my current read): Family... it is a fucking bitch.

Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire: Verity danced circles around the living room, her amateurish pirouettes and unsteady leaps accompanied by cheers and exultations from the horde of Aeslin mice perched on the back of the couch.

Blood and Bullets by James R. Tuck: Some nights are destined to go to hell.

The Poet by Michael Connelly: Death is my beat.

Feed by Mira Grant: Our story opens where countless stories have ended in the last twenty-six years: with an idiot--in this case, my brother Shaun--deciding it would be a good idea to go out and poke a zombie with a stick to see what happens.

Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman: You just know it’s going to be a bad day when you’re stuck at a red light and Death pulls up behind you in a station wagon.

I'm not sure if all of those first sentences would have me buying the book - especially if I hadn't already read some of the other books by that author - but where those books go from there were definitely worth the journey. And all of the books I mentioned definitely hooked me and had me reading from the get-go.

What are some awesome first lines you've read or that you've written? Come on, share. =o)


  1. Great first lines, B.E. - yours and theirs. I especially liked your opening to Dying Embers! And Feed by Mira Grant - I am not a Zombie fan, but that first line hooked me!

    I struggle with the whole 'first line' thing - that and the first 3 chapters - polishing until they lose their luster (both in my heart and on paper) - if you know what I mean. Anyway - here's a first line from Gillian and Mac's story: Gillian knew exactly what she wanted and the beefcake unfolding himself from the black SUV was definitely not it.

    You're posting about writing - does this mean you're back in the saddle?

  2. I enjoyed reading your first lines!

    Thanks for using the first line from Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman. :-)

    I didn't read Allison's piece, but I personally feel that it's important that the first line/paragraph communicate the theme or voice of a book.

  3. First lines. Hmmmmmm.

    My current first line: She stands to face him when there is no one left.

    One of my favorites: The worst thing about near-world-ending disasters according to Sergeant Marcus Kassan-at least the ones that had done miraculously little damage-was the paper work they generated.