Sunday, November 19, 2006

First lines

There's been some talk out there about first lines which is so funny because I was just thinking about first lines and favorite lines. Thanks to Rachel for sending me to Fangs, Fur & Fey which has tons of people talking about this topic.

I used to think that first lines were the most important in the book. Wait, I still think that to a certain extent (once the book is published). But I used to think that I couldn't start writing a book until I knew what the first line would be. It was like hanging around at the starting line - once I knew the first line it was time to write like mad in order to keep up with the story. Without that first line though...

These days I don't feel as strongly about that. I start writing where I can start writing. Someone once said to start with what interests you and write all the interesting scenes that come after that since those are the scenes the reader will want to read. So that's what I did with DB&D. Sure it's a little episodic and needs to be woven together a bit more, but I also cut the first two chapters and so the original first line exists no more.

On the other hand, with my current WIP I thought of the first line as I was leaving work one day. I emailed it to myself and later I read the email and thought, "hmmm, let's see where this goes" and now I'm 16+k words in and loving it.

Without further ado, here are the first lines of my mss:

1. "I won't do it mother." (there was more to this line but I can't remember it. This is the first whole novel I ever wrote and I didn't start until I knew the first line).

2. It all began when Katie dropped William Peterson’s liver on the white-tiled floor. “Oh, damn,” she said against her surgeon’s mask as she glared at her male assistant, Rodney, who was making no effort to quell his laughter. (This was my second ST novel and again, once I had the first line I was off like a rocket).

3. Truth be told, I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be. (This is where I cut a few chapters; originally this line was somewhere in chapter 3).

4. My mother used to tell me about the ocean. She said there was a place where there was nothing but water as far as you could see and that it was always moving, rushing towards you and then away. (this is my current WIP, the one with the line I emailed to myself and ran with).

Like everyone else, I have others - ones part of tossed away ideas. But all of these are part of projects that I either completed or am in the process of writing/finishing.

So, what first lines do all of you have tucked away? How important do you think that first lines are? How do you view them?

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