Do you consider the first line to be an important part of a story? If so, why?
Every line is an important part of the story. Generally you want the first line and paragraph to set the tone. The best opening line may be one that blends in not one that stands out.

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 don’t write in order. So I write the beginning when it comes to me, which could be well into the process.

What consequences, if any, do you think there are in having a badly written first line?
Someone might not read further.

What’s your favourite first line that you’ve ever read? And can you recall a worst?
Darin Strauss’ “Half a Life” begins

Half my life ago, I killed a girl.

That was an intriguing start.

What is one of your own best first lines?
The first line of Angel is

The mountain is nothing but itself.

It is a reference to the mythology we project onto the mountain. This is a metaphor in its own way for the roles we project onto people who are also nothing but themselves and defy neat narratives.
We’re all sharing here! What’s one of your worst first lines?
Mine? If I thought it was bad I wouldn’t use it.

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?
It doesn’t need to be showy. You just need to start. I often cut original opening paragraphs from drafts as unnecessary.

Do you have any suggestions for other authors on how to write a great first line? Have you heard any great advice yourself?
When I was working as a reporter for the Times Union newspaper in Albany, NY my editor used to have reporters just tell him what happened. Where you start talking is your opening line.


Angel by Laura LeeSince the loss of his lively, charming wife to cancer six years ago, minister Paul Tobit has been operating on autopilot, performing his religious duties by rote. Everything changes the day he enters the church lobby and encounters a radiant, luminous being lit from behind, breathtakingly beautiful and glowing with life. An angel. For a moment Paul is so moved by his vision that he is tempted to fall on his knees and pray. Even after he regains his focus and realizes he simply met a flesh-and-blood young man, Paul cannot shake his sense of awe and wonder. He feels an instant and overwhelming attraction for the young man, which puzzles him even as it fills his thoughts and fires his feelings. Paul has no doubt that God has spoken to him through this vision, and Paul must determine what God is calling him to do.Thus begins a journey that will inspire Paul’s ministry but put him at odds with his church as he is forced to examine his deeply held beliefs and assumptions about himself, his community, and the nature of love.

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Genre – Contemporary Fiction / LGBT

Rating – PG13

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