Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Importance of the First Line

You can't call me Ishmael, but I do believe in a story having a great first line. Some can knock your socks off, some can grab you by the throat, some are almost shocking in their stark simplicity, and some just work. Certainly some of my top 10 favorite books listed below have those great first lines:
  • "There was no possibility of taking a walk that day." (Jane Eyre)
  • "When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow." (To Kill A Mockingbird)
Neither one of those is exactly "It was a dark and stormy night", but both quietly, calmly, conversationally draw the reader in and make her want to read some more.

SHADOW POINT opens with the line "They found my brother's body by the tide pools." Which I hope will be intriguing to fans of murder mysteries and/or shellfish. After rereading that sentence, I should clarify that I meant "fans of shellfish", but I suppose if any actual crustaceans want to buy the book, that will be all right, too. It will cost about 15 clams...

2 comments:

  1. BTW, you might like to read "The Eyre Affair" by Jasper Fforde. Absurdist British (OK, he's Welsh, but still) humor about a literary detective named Thursday Next. Currently 5 or so books in the series.

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  2. Yep, I read that one a while back and enjoyed it.

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