Friday, April 6, 2012

F is for FAVORITE FIRST LINES

That first line should blow your readers away!
     When I look for a book to read at the library or bookstore, the cover art and title always draw me in first.   Like many others, I'll read the jacket copy and, if it intrigues me, I move on to the first line.
     I've read through many books' first lines, looking at the different ways authors entice readers. When I went to a workshop taught by young adult author Richard Peck four years ago, he admitted to spending several hours each week at a Manhattan bookstore looking at first lines. 'You're only as good as your first line,' he said. So I spend a lot of time writing and rewriting mine.
    Here's a handful of some of my favorites (middle-grade and young adult):
    'My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes and I came back with a dog.' - Kate DiCamillo, Because of Winn Dixie, 2000.
    'If your teacher has to die, August isn't a bad time for it.' - Richard Peck, The Teacher's Funeral, 2004.
    'I come from a family with a lot of dead people.' - Deborah Wiles, Each Little Bird That Sings, 2005.
    'Today I moved to a twelve-acre rock covered with cement, topped with bird turd and surrounded by water.' - Gennifer Choldenko, Al Capone Does My Shirts, 2004.
    'Walking to school over the snow-muffled cobbles, Karou had no sinister premonitions about the day.' - Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, 2011.

     Tell me one of your favorites! It doesn't have to be from a children's title. Don't forget to leave the title and author's name, too.
     `

18 comments:

  1. I approach a book in the same way you've described. Although I couldn't tell you a first offhand that I remember.


    Lee
    A Few Words
    An A to Z Co-host blog

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  2. See, I don't look for the first line but the inciting event. If something bad's about to happen (or good depending on the book), I stick around.

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    1. Oh, I agree! It can have an fantastic first line, but that's not a guarantee the rest of the chapter or even the book will hold up to the initial awesomeness! I'm just a little obsessed with the first line is all.

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  3. Oh! First lines are so fun.
    My favorite is "I didn't know how long I had been in the King's Prison."
    It's from The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner.
    ~Sarah F.

    www.inklinedwriters.blogspot.com

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    1. Nice one! I love when a first line creates so many questions in the reader's mind. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. I love how dark so many of those first lines are! One of my favorites is from THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO by Patrick Ness:

    "The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don't got nothing much to say. About anything."

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    1. Oooo, that's a good one, too! See?! As I said above, when the first line begs for an explanation, you know you've hit the jackpot.
      Funny thing is, the books I mentioned above (except DS&B) are all very upbeat books even though they have dark-sounding first lines!

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  5. One of my favourite opening lines from a book is
    "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again." Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.

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    1. Hi Sally! Haven't read that one, though I've heard it's really good!

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  6. Oh, my. Dawn- you quoted my favorite^! (Richard Peck from The Teacher's Funeral, also one of the MG I would put at the top of any list.)
    I still think the grand master of first-lines has to be Charles Dickens.

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    1. I love Peck; his body of work amazes me and his sense of humor is so wry. And yes, I agree with you about Dickens.

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  7. Currently in love with this from "Scorpio Races" by Maggie Stiefvater:

    It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.

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    1. I haven't read that one, but that's a great first line. I read 'Shiver' and 'Linger' within the last few months. Both of those have great opening lines, too.

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  8. Fun first lines ... and the illustration is tremendous!

    Popping in as an A to Z Blogging Challenge participant. Please feel free to visit and comment on any of my blogs as well, leaving a link to your own post, so my readers can find you too!

    You can click my name/icon for links to all six A to Z blogs! Happy A-to-Z-ing!

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  9. I can't think of any first lines off the top of my head, but I have just written down four new books to check out on the basis of what I've read here :-)

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    1. Hi Sarah! I'm happy to make your TBR pile grow! Thanks for stopping by.

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  10. I am drawn by the cover, then the description on the back (or the inside flap) and finally the first few lines.
    I love this post because it has inspired me to check all my books for my favorite first lines. :)

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