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First Lines interview with Cege SmithDo you consider the first line to be an important part of a story? If so, why?

The first line is your first introduction to the reader, and it has to be compelling enough that they want to continue reading. It is critically important to the story.

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?

I think first lines are hard in general because they are so important. You want to try to convey so much in just a few words, and it’s challenging. What I’ve taken to doing is just writing it to get something on the page and then I come back to it on the editing side. I don’t expect my first line to be great out of the gate. There is definitely some finesse needed.

What consequences, if any, do you think there are in having a badly written first line?

I think that can immediately throw a doubt in the reader’s mind about what to expect from the rest of the story. It’s like going on a first date and then having the whole thing start off badly- you spend the rest of your time together trying to recover and that may not happen.

What’s your favourite first line that you’ve ever read? And can you recall a worst?

True!- nervous- very, very, dreadfully nervous I had been and am! but why will you say that I am mad?

from the Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe

I can’t recall the worst first line, but I know there have been many that haven’t stood out to me.

What is one of your own best first lines?

No matter what she did, the voices in Angeline’s head wouldn’t stop despite the fact that the moment that would define her the rest of her life was just around the corner.

– from Heiress of Lies

We’re all sharing here! What’s one of your worst first lines?

I know that the first line of any one of my first drafts is awful. 🙂

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?

Don’t try to cram too much in there. The first line should orient the reader to the character, the setting, or the situation, but don’t try to make it do all of that at the same time.

Do you have any suggestions for other authors on how to write a great first line? Have you heard any great advice yourself?

I’d say that don’t expect it to be perfect right away, and try writing several different versions and read them outloud. You want to make sure that it flows well right into your story.

Cege Smith is a Minnesota based writer who is addicted to lattes and B-rated horror films. She had been crafting spooky stories since she was twelve years old. She lives with her husband, two adorable stepsons, and mini long-hair dachshund, Juliet, in the suburbs of Minneapolis. Connect with Cege Online: Twitter: http://twitter.com/cegesmith Facebook: http://facebook.com/cegesmith My blog: http://www.cegesmith.com

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