Do you consider the first line to be an important part of a story? If so, why?

Like most writers, I was also told by my English and Creative Writing teachers that the first line is a very (perhaps most) important part of the story. I think that’s true. The first line has to be something that draws the reader into the story, and entices them to keep reading. Though I also think that the entire first paragraph, or even first chapter, is equally important. As is the rest of the story, of course.

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 usually leave the perfecting of the first line, or first paragraph, until the end of my revisions. I’m more of a seat of the pants writer, and like to concentrate on getting the entire story polished, before worrying about the finesses of language.

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

Frankly, I think that if someone has started reading your book, they will give it a shot beyond the first line. But I also think that a well-written first line is almost like the first impression. The better it is, the more likely for the reader to enjoy the rest of the book.

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

Call me Ishameal

from Moby Dick is still the only first line I can remember off hand. I think it’s perfect. It sets the tone of the entire novel and introduces the point of view character very well. As for the worst first line, I really can’t think of any.

What is one of your own best first lines?

Here’s one from an old short story that I kind of like:

The faces of his companions are shrouded in shadow, but that does not matter for they will not talk to him anyway.

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

Must I 😉 Ok, here is the first line of an early draft of Protector (Anniversary of the Veil, Book 1) that didn’t make it into the final draft:

Issiyanna had picked two white winter roses from the entrance to the castle Gardens to lay on her mother’s grave and she placed them now on the ground next to the headstone.

It’s too long, and should really be broken up into two sentences, but like I said, it never made it into the final draft.

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?

I don’t like first lines that are an obvious attempt at being interesting and striking, just because the writer heard they must be such. Especially when the rest of the chapter doesn’t live up to it.

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

Beyond hearing how important the first line is, I haven’t actually heard much advice on how to make it such. I try to make mine raise a question in the readers mind, while setting the general scene and introducing the character. But I’m still working on perfecting my first line skills.


Vanna Smythe: ProtectorDuty versus love is the one battle warrior Kae doesn’t know how to fight.

Kae has trained his entire life to become an elite Protector of the Realm. But when he earns that honor he finds himself protecting something far greater: the Veil separating two worlds. On one side of the Veil lie untold stores of magic. On the Realm’s side, magic is all but obliterated, and Kae is one of the few who can use it. The priests who secretly rule the Realm will do everything they can to control his growing magical abilities. He’s willing to pay the price, even though it comes between him and Issa, the princess he loves.

But the Veil has weakened over a thousand years and powers on both sides will stop at nothing to keep it intact. Strangers from the other side have kidnapped Issa to take her across the Veil and sacrifice her to strengthen it. Kae is the only one who can find her. If he goes after Issa, he loses everything he’s worked so hard for. But if he chooses duty over love, Issa will die.

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Genre – Fantasy

Rating – PG13

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