by Karen Ball
I loved reading your favorite first lines last week. Isn’t it amazing how the right first line sets the stage, how it can pull readers out of reality deep into the story that’s being woven around them? I’m always awed at the power of the written word.
As I said last week, a group of writer friends likes to share the first lines of their works in progress. JUST the first line. Not the first paragraph, or even the first two lines. All we can share is that one, lonely line. And you know what? It’s been so helpful to do this. Because I realized, as I played from time to time, that my first lines weren’t as strong or emotive as they needed to be. And that, far too often, those first lines only had impact when combined with the second line.
Now, admittedly, some of the first lines I shared last week are even stronger with the second line. Consider the one from Andrew Greely’s The God Game:
It’s Nathan’s fault I became God.
It is, as I would learn, hell to be God.
I love that. Makes me smile every time I read it. I had to read more, to find out why this character was saying this, who Nathan was, and how on earth he made the protagonist into God. Still, that first line by itself works great. My first lines? Not so much. So I spend a lot more time now making sure my first lines work well in and of themselves.
How about you? Do you love the first line of your work in progress (WIP)? Whether you do or not, here’s your chance to share it and see what some readers think! Come on, now, be brave. Show us how you’re drawing your readers into your book.
Just to prime the pump, here are a few of my first lines. The first three are from books already published, the last from my WIP:
We’re out of control. (The Breaking Point)
The night was a chameleon. (What Lies Within)
The last thing on Josh’s mind that morning was death. (Reunion)
He’d always known he would die young, he just never thought it would happen in a kitchen. (WIP)
Okay, your turn. Have at it!