Thursday, April 14, 2011

More on Beginnings

by Joyce

This is going to be a really short post. I'm in the middle of about a dozen different things right now, two of which are revising my WIP and the never-ending bathroom remodel. I'm grouting at least a gazillion square feet of space between the tiles. At least it seems that way.

Anyway, C.L.'s post yesterday got me thinking about our own first lines. When I'm planning a book or short story, the first line usually just pops into my head. Sure, it gets tweaked a few times, but so far I've never had to ditch the line entirely.

In one of my manuscripts (the one that was agented) the first line was, "April used to be my favorite month of the year." Not great, but it does make the reader wonder why it's no longer her favorite month.

One of my short stories, Agatha, begins with, "Agatha. God, she hated that name."

An unfinished short story starts, "Angela Dunham's problems were over."

An unfinished police procedural begins, "One thing worse than getting called out at four in the morning was getting called out for a body cut up in pieces and stuffed into garbage bags."


Anyone else want to share? Come on, you know you do!

9 comments:

Annette said...

My favorite of my own opening lines is from my short story "An Assassin in the Family." At five foot two and a hundred and seven pounds, Aunt Julie did not look like a hired assassin. Which is probably why she was so good at it.

I also kinda like the opening line I came up with for "A Murder Runs Through It" in Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology--Nothing ruins a romantic riverside picnic like a dead body [flotating by]. The last two words got edited out of the final version, but I wish they were still in there.

I have a harder time coming up with opening lines for my long fiction. Maybe that's why my short fiction is published and my long fiction isn't.

Ramona said...

My favorite of my own opening lines was cut by my critique group! It was painful but they were right, so thank you, Joyce, for a chance to record it someplace:

"The stripper pole made her curious."

Patg said...

The Vampire TeMonte smiled down on her and moaned with erotic pleasure, before he said, "Irene is foodie this month and you just know she’ll only bring a box or bag of something bought over the weekend.”

My Fish Tales opener from The Critique Group is:
Blood on the Manuscripts, Patti Priestly thought as she watched Lana Kimble open the next submission covered in red ink.

No matter what blog I want to comment on, I have to enter it two or three times. I think it's a Google thing, and this week they are causing all kinds of disconnecting problems.
Patg

Joyce said...

I remember that line, Annette. That was a great story. I have Fish Tales on my Kindle, but haven't had time to read it yet.

Joyce said...

Ramona, I love that line! It would definitely make me keep reading.

Joyce said...

Ooh, good lines, Pat.

I haven't had any problems with Blogger this week, but I know others have. It seems like every time they update something there are problems.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

My published short story has my most intriguing first line (In my humble opinion of course.)

"I was having a pretty good day until Neville killed me."

My latest WIP

“Ma ma?” The girl held her breath to listen.

Okay the first line is REALLY short.

Finally, my finished manuscript that is looking for a good home.

"He wanted it all to be over; the war in Iraq, the terrorism, the death, the killing, but it wasn’t going to stop."

Jennie Bentley said...

This is the second time in two days Blogger hasn't let me comment! It tells me I don't have cookies enabled, when I know damn well there are plenty of cookies!

The DIYs don't have very exciting opening lines, I'm afraid. I like the one from Savannah 4, that I just finished. "When Rafe Collier came back from the dead, I was late."

I also like the first line of the YA mystery I wrote a couple of years ago, but which never went anywhere because my agent didn't like it: "Chelsea Jacobsen was trouble."

And finally, the sci-fi, which I'm sort of playing with in between other projects: "Quinn Conlan was bleeding to death."

C.L. Phillips said...

From FIRST MISTAKE, "Friday afternoon in Austin, Texas sparkles like a first date."

And from an untitled work, "There's only one thing worse than living in a crummy apartment in St. Louis, and that's shoveling four inches of wet snow from your parking space, knowing one your your heartless neighbors will steal it as soon as you turn the corner."

Can you tell which one is a first draft? :)

I'm posting late because I've been heads down, writing all day. A day to remember, a time to rejoice.