Thursday, May 30, 2013

First Lines

There are about a million and one blog posts that talk about the importance of having a great first line for your book. Today a friend posted in our writing group another of these posts, and while I agreed with the bloggers point, I wanted more examples.

Ok, ok, I was procrastinating writing and editing. 

Instead of being long-winded about something readers either love or hate, I'm just going to post my favorites. The first lines hooked me enough that I bought the book. (to be fair, I have other books just because I love the cover art.) I wish to be able to wordsmith like this. Agree? Disagree? Have your own favorites? Do tell!

From the top of the large boulder he sat on, Ensign Tom Davis looked across the expanse of the cave toward Captain Lucius Abernathy, Science Officer Q'eeng and Chief Engineer Paul West perched on a second, larger boulder, and thought, Well this sucks. 
--REDSHIRTS by John Scalzi

I was born with the war.
--FOR THOSE I LOVED by Martin Gray

Linderwall was a large kingdom, just east of the Mountains of Morning, where philosophers were highly respected and the number five was fashionable.
--THE ENCHANTED FOREST by Patricia Wrede

"I'm ten years old, my whole life you've called me Vanya. My name is on the school records, on government papers as Ivan Petrovich Smetski. Now you tell me I'm really Itzak Shlomo. What am I, a Jewish secret agent?"
--ENCHANTMENT by Orson Scott Card

Gramps says that I am a country girl at heart, and that is true. I have lived most of my thirteen years in Bybanks, Kentucky, which is not much more than a caboodle of houses roosting in a green spot alongside the Ohio River."
--WALK TWO MOONS by Sharon Creech

It had been over four years since I'd really slept, and I suspected it was killing me. 
-- INSOMNIA by J.R. Johansson

In the week before their departure to Arrakis, when all the final scurrying about had reached a nearly unfathomable frenzy, an old crone came to visit the mother of the boy, Paul.
--DUNE by Frank Herbert

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.

How many times I have wondered what my fate might have been had I accompanied my parents that rainy spring morning. Such musings, I recognize, are more than a trifle insane, for envisioning what might have been has no more connection to our own true reality than a lunatic has to a lemon.
--PRINCESS BEN by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.
--PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES  by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

The stork glided to a landing before Stunk's residence and squawked for attention. "No, it can't be!" the goblin cried in panic, "I'm not even married!" 
--NIGHT MARE by Piers Anthony

[Inscription on the god doll: Be silent, I am talking]
My people, lay down your stones. Before you stone this Annakey Rainsayer, you know it is the law and her right to have her story told.
--THE DOLL MAGE by Martine Leavitt

It was a September morning, hazy with late summer, and now with all the years between.
--A YEAR DOWN YONDER by Richard Peck.

There is no lake at Camp Green Lake. There once was a very large lake here, the largest lake in Texas. That was over a hundred years ago. Now it is a just a dry, flat wasteland.
--HOLES by Louis Sachar

They had tried to destroy the Will, but that proved to be beyond their power. So they broke it, in two ways. It was broken physically, torn apart, with the fragments of heavy parchment scattered across both space and time. It was broken in spirit because not one clause of it had been fulfilled.
--MISTER MONDAY by Garth Nix

"Ida B," Mama said to me on one of those days that start just right and just keep heading toward perfect until you go to sleep, "When you're done with the dishes, you can go play. Daddy and I are going to be working until dinner."
--IDA B by Katherine Hannigan

Corporal Carrot, Ankh-Morpork City Guard (Night Watch), sat down in his nightshirt, took up his pencil, sucked the end for a moment, and then wrote:
     'Dearest Mume and Dad, Well, here is another fine Turnup for the books, for I have been made a Corporal!!'

--MEN AT ARMS by Terry Pratchett.

Dear Lord, if it is not too much to ask, could you please send less wind and fewer turnips?
--GIRL IN A CAGE by Jane Yolen and Robert J. Harris

That fool of a fairy Lucinda did not intend to lay a curse on me. She meant to bestow a gift.
--ELLA ENCHANTED by Gail Carson Levine

Prince Raoden of Arelon awoke early that morning, completely unaware that he had been damned for all eternity. 
--ELANTRIS by Brandon Sanderson

My first superbeing was an accident. Literally and figuratively.

Sabira Lyet d'Deneith toyed with the glass in her hand as she watched her quarry from the far end of the Wavecrest Tavern's semicircular bar. 
--DnD ONLINE: THE SHARD AXE by Marsheila Rockwell

Ambassador Sara Bair knew that when the captain of the Polk had invited her to the bridge to view the skip to the Davanar system, protocol strongly suggested that she turn down the invitation.

Lilly's lamp blew out as she bolted down the hallway. She threw the lamp aside, splashing oil across the painted wall and fine rug. The liquid glistened in the moonlight.
--THE RITHMATIST by Brandon Sanderson

They came in the night. Once, families fought them, neighbors coming to their aid. But now that peace has been established, and the looms proven, girls pray to be retrieved. They still come at night, but now it’s to avoid the masses with eager hands.
--CREWEL by Gennifer Albin

Let’s just get this right out of the way – This book has 275 things to “know” about writing. Not 250. I know. I know. Believe it or not, I can count. Even though I am not a registered mathologist, or even a certified addition accounting therapist, I can still add up numbers without the use of my fingers and toes. In fact, I have a lovely abacus over here. His name is “Steve.”

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, 'and what is the use of a book,' thought Alice 'without pictures or conversation?'

I balanced on my surfboard, right thigh burning and salt water stinging my eyes, while the best wave of the early morning carried me like a goddess on a pedestal to shore. 
--PERCEPTION by Lee and Elle Strauss

I dare you to check your own favorites, see how that author strung words together to hook you. And if you're a writer, check and double check your own first lines.

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