Oh yes, absolutely. It may be cliché’ but you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Your first line should pop! It should rope people in, and make them wonder what’s going on in the story. I also believe it should set the scene, while intriguing readers. Of course, it also should be well-constructed.
Do you find first lines easy to come up with, or challenging? Do you have a technique, or a ritual, that you go by to make it easy?
Some times the lines just come to me, other times I have to brainstorm or keep tweaking it until I get it right. I actually have a doc file labeled “good first lines.” When a cool sentence pops in my head, I’ll add it. I even have a tablet that I keep with me, when a really good sentence pops in my head (per say at work). I write it down,right away.
What consequences, if any, do you think there are in having a badly written first line?
If you have a bad first line, you may fail to entice readers. Or worse yet, you might really turn your readers off.
What’s your favourite first line that you’ve ever read? And can you recall a worst?
Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, often violently just like love.
From Andrew Davidson’s the Gargoyle
My least favorite:
My name is Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie.
from The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.
What is one of your own best first lines?
“NO!!” Mitchel Rainley woke up screaming, again.
We’re all sharing here! What’s one of your worst first lines?
Once there lived a beautiful girl named Nicola. She was not wealthly by any means; but her loveliness and caring nature had won her the heart of the Grande Duke’s son Xavier, to whom she was betrothed.
from the Golden Rose. I just think it’s a little too long, and a little too typical.
What are some things a first line *shouldn’t* be? What are some things that you’ve read in first lines that really rubs you the wrong way?
Your first line should never be too bland, or too boring. I really don’t like those “Meet so-and-so…” first lines. First lines solely bent on introducing you to the main character in a way that’s supposed to be quirky and cute. The aforementioned line from The Lovely Bones is a perfect example. I think the “like the fish” part bugged me the most. I really don’t care for that book, but even if it was a great story, the line doesn’t do it any justice.
Do you have any suggestions for other authors on how to write a great first line? Have you heard any great advice yourself?
1) Think of your five favorite books. Look at the first lines, and think about what you liked about them.
2) Think of a first line as a punch. How strong of an impact do you want to make with that punch? Let that punch suit what kind of story it is. Is it a playful jab, a sucker punch, or a full-blown col cock?
3) Get feedback. See what other people think. What impression did your first line give them?
Do you have any final words?
The best first lines are the ones you find quoted again and again…They are the ones we never forget.
I’ve been in love with writing all my life; but began pursuing my writing career while I was a dance major at Point Park University. After a series of personal trails and a religious reckoning, I hung up my point shoes for good and never looked back. Writing is my truer love, and even my college professors encouraged and praised my writing. Kind of funny how we find ourselves sometimes…
Currently, I’m working on the second story in my Daughters of Oberia trilogy, a poetry anthology entitled Angelic Visions, and a fantasy series The Corithian Saga. Website: http://www.klcrumley.com