How important is the first line of a novel, especially an unsold novel that’s going out to agents in a few weeks?
Here are the first lines of some of the books I’ve read this year:
Esther Crummey foresaw the accident as it unfolded." The Fugitive Wife by Peter C. Brown
"FOR more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in town." Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman
“Be careful what you wish for. I know that for a fact. Wishes are brutal, unforgiving things,” The Ice Queen, Alice Hoffman.
"THE WEEK BEFORE I left my family and Florida and the rest of my minor life to go to boarding school in Alabama, my mother insisted on throwing me a going-away party." Looking for Alaska, John Greene
“I write this sitting in the sink.” I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
“Mom, you’ve been fighting again.” Blood and Chocolate, Annette Curtis Klause
“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” Gee, wonder who?
When I started revising my WIP this past weekend, I was shocked by how bad my first paragraph sucked. My limping first line is, “Robert Reilly tried to empty his mind.” I say this with my face literally burning with embarrassment. Pu-leeze. It’s in the same dank category as, “Susie swam up out of a deep sleep.” Talk about wanting to make your reader put the book down to catch some zzzs.
So, first lines anyone?
Feel free to also share any first line blues (or brainstorms) you're having now. And to talk about the importance of first lines in general. What should they do?