Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Killer First Lines
I'm in the middle of editing my latest project, a YA paranormal tentatively titled UNLEASHED. I've enjoyed working on it and I feel I've got the basic structure down, the tension-filled first chapter, the relateable hero, the page-turning chapter endings, etc..
But what I don't have is a great first sentence. As it is now, it reads: "Claire opened the door to Bodian Dynamics, ignoring the puff of cold, chemical-smelling air, and walked inside to a pale green lobby." Boring! And too long for my taste.
I'm in the camp that a novel's first sentence sets the tone for the entire story, and I love authors who pay special attention to this. I'll still read and enjoy books that don't do this, but I really appreciate the ones who take the time to tell me something in that one opening sentence.
A couple of my favorite first liners are:
"There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife." The Graveyard Book.
"Where's Papa going with that axe?" Charlotte's Web.
I looked back at a few of my first sentences from previous projects and this is what I found:
"I always knew my father was a monster, but watching him torture someone other than me made me ill." The Devil's Fool. I like this one.
"Lucien stood, head tilted upwards in the center of a long alleyway between two abandoned warehouses." The Devil's Angel. I don't like this one. Needs work.
"My name is Mommy." Confessions of a Cereal Mother. Not bad.
Now share some of your first liners. Do you like them? Do they need work?
More about first liners can be found on literary agent, Mary Kole's blog or in this article written by Christopher Jackson.
Posted by Rachel McClellan