27 Jul More About Great First Lines
I’m intrigued with the first lines of books. Some draw us in by merely stating the basic facts of a story—”It was Monday morning, it was pouring with rain, and it was everyone’s first day back at St Barty’s Primary School after the Christmas holidays.” Mr. Majeika, Humphrey Carpenter.
Some beginnings tease or worry the reader with an unsettling or mysterious statement that begs to be explained. Others pitch us headlong into the plot and into the drama. All good first sentences of books entice the reader with the idea that something special is just around the corner. Great beginnings pull the reader into the story so they’ll stick around. Here are more examples:
“My father got the dog drunk on cherry brandy at the party last night. If the RSPCA hear about it he could get done.” The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾, Sue Townsend
“Once upon a time there were three billy goats, who were to go up to the hillside to make themselves fat, and the name of all three was ‘Gruff.'” Three Billy Goats Gruff, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe
“Thumbelina is content to spend her days rowing in a boat made from a tulip petal and sleeping in a cradle made from a polished walnut shell.” Thumbelina, Hans Christian Andersen
“At dawn one still October day in the long ago of the world, across the hill of Alderley, a farmer from Mobberley was riding to Macclesfield fair.” The Weirdstone Of Brisingamen, Alan Garner
You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
In our workbook, Write a Marketable Children’s Book in 7 Weeks, we teach how to bait your most important reader, the editor. Some editors say that the first paragraph or the first 60 words is all they read before they decide to keep reading or to reject the manuscript. So make your first words count–hook and tantalize your readers. Our workbook will show you how.
If you have some favorite first lines or a writing question, we’d love to hear from you.