Author Topic: First Lines/Last Chances  (Read 20867 times)

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Offline KymBrunner

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #30 on: July 23, 2007, 06:16 PM »
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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #31 on: July 24, 2007, 06:31 AM »
Here's mine from my WIP: After reading this thread, I realized my original first line was weak and a better line sat further inside the text.

Crouched in the basement, staring at the walls, I could see my bright future crumble like dry rot.

Bish

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #32 on: July 24, 2007, 09:15 AM »
Neat thread. Here a first line from a finished work looking for a home.

Not fifty feet away from the Sacred Nursery, Old Man Ocean muttered to himself.

And from a current WIP, the first paragraph.

He found me in the desert. I was quite crazy, being starved. I was mad for want of water. I was raving having been burnt by the sun. At first I wouldn’t let him come near me. But he persisted, offering me food and water. I couldn’t resist his kindness. The moment he touched me I felt comforted. I let him examine me for cuts and bruises, of which I had quite a few. Then he washed me down with aloe and water. His hands, though callused from years of labor, moved across my body like the soft wings of a dove. As he gently bathed me I knew I would follow him wherever he went.

Offline 1846

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #33 on: July 24, 2007, 10:00 AM »
Okay, here's my current draft.  Please tell me it's not the kiss of death to quote Shakespeare in the opening line of an MG novel.

     When Shakespeare said, “The play’s the thing,” I’m pretty sure he wasn’t talking about football.
     But it’s football plays, not stage plays, that are the topic of conversation this morning.  Noah shows one of his team’s plays to Dad, and suddenly breakfast is part of the action.  The saltshaker becomes the quarterback, Noah’s silverware becomes the linemen, and the edge of my plate is the goal line.  That was fine until I get this bare bicep in my face as the ball carrier gets tackled in the middle of my two eggs, sunnyside up.  Yolk splatters all over. 
     “Eeeuuwww,” says my little sister, Mac.
     “Hey!  Not in my food!  Play your football game someplace else.”  Football is Noah’s thing, not mine.  I’d rather talk about REAL plays.

Offline olmue

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #34 on: July 24, 2007, 10:34 AM »
Hey, 1846, this is really nice! Markus Zusak talks about figuring out what your reader is expecting, and then giving them something else. I think you've done a great job here!

Offline 1846

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #35 on: July 25, 2007, 05:47 AM »
Thank you so much!  I've been struggling with this opening and wasn't sure whether the line came across as clever or if it was merely pretentious.  I'm glad to know you liked it!

amberzak

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #36 on: August 13, 2007, 02:00 PM »
This is my begining of a children's book...

Simon and Matthew ran into the kitchen. The scream still rung in Simon's ears. There on the floor lay their mum. Her pale skin was stained with her own blood. Her grey eyes were staring. A man stood near, a knife in his hands. He saw the locket round Simon's neck, the locket with an engraved picture of a tree blowing in the wind, on flames with a stream running near by. The man launched at Simon, grabbing him by the arm.

Offline angela

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #37 on: August 24, 2007, 01:27 AM »
I like to play around with voice – here are two different versions from an old WIP that I haven’t worked on in awhile. (But the characters, especially the MC, tend to interrupt me on a regular basis!)

A SINGLE DROP OF BLOOD (YA horror)

The Family tries to make like Magda is my aunt, but I knew the first time her scent reached me, from beyond the back porch and piles of junk in the yard to her hiding spot behind The Father’s woodshed, from that first smell, I knew she was my ma.

- or -

They pretend Madga is my aunt, but I’ve known from the first time I smelled her that she’s my mom.


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Offline Karen K

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #38 on: August 24, 2007, 08:44 AM »
Interesting differences between your first lines, Angela. My gut reaction is to like the shorter one better, but I think the first one has a more distinctive voice. Maybe if you merged the two somehow...

I redid the beginning of my novel Other recently. I'll cheat and post the first two sentences, since that's how long the first paragraph is:

I can’t last much longer. It’s been one week, three days, and I forget how many hours.

Karen
Out now: DEADLY DELICIOUS

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bonitap

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #39 on: August 24, 2007, 05:59 PM »
From JULIA'S CHOCOLATES by Cathy Lamb (not a chidlren's novel but hilariously funny) :

     "I left my wedding dress hanging in a tree somewhere in North Dakota."

Now don't you just want to steal that line and write your own story around it?

Bonita

takoda

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #40 on: August 25, 2007, 05:40 AM »
Okay, here's mine:

"I was unaware of being watched."

It's all I got. I need another 39, 995 words to add to it. But it's my start. Don't nunya take it. :n

Offline Traci @ITD

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #41 on: August 27, 2007, 01:49 PM »
Here's the first paragraph of my WIP (MG fantasy):

Jaeron sat cross legged on the rocky floor of his pen. Large drums began a slow, steady beat in the pit below. The spectators were beginning to gather. Jaeron was able to play the emotions of the crowd like a musician plays the flute. That was why he received the best meals, a pen with solitude away from the stench of the waste chambers and a bed of fur. He had fought forty-two battles and had never lost. But today's battle was different. Today's battle was Da'Akaan--to the death.


So, does that capture anyone's attention and make you want to read more? I hope so. I was encouraged to rewrite it today after reading this thread.

Traci
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Offline Cali

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #42 on: August 28, 2007, 09:42 AM »
First of all, ths is a GREAT thread.  It really got me thinking about my own first lines.  There's a lot of good ones posted here.  Most of mine feel weak to me after reading this thread.   I have one that I think might work.  It's from a chapter book I just finished.   What do you think?

"One morning something leaped from Dina's bed and swoosed out her window."

Offline lynnek

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #43 on: January 19, 2008, 01:11 PM »
I read a beginning today that reminded me of this thread, so I thought I'd post again and move it up. I just bought E.R. Frank's YA novel Wrecked (for my daughter really, but I have a feeling she'll have to wait until I've finished it). I opened to the first page and saw the line, "The day I killed my brother's girlfriend started with me handpicking leaves off our front lawn."

What about the recent ALA winners? The first lines of Newberry Honor book Wednesday Wars are "Of all the kids in the 7th grade at Camillo Junior High, there was one kid that Mrs. Baker hated with heat whiter than the sun. Me."

Here's a Newberry winner from years ago, Missing May. It starts out, "When May died, Ob came back to the trailer, got out of his good suit and into his regular clothes, then went and sat in the Chevy for the rest of the night."

Heartbreaking. Reminds me of a high school kid I taught who was often late to school after his dad died because he would sit in his dad's old truck for so long.

What are some other first lines from last week's award-winners (or any other great books you're reading)?

Offline Pons

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #44 on: January 19, 2008, 09:43 PM »
Here's the opening line from my WIP, an MG:

Steven stopped twisting the hem of his shirt and kicked his bed instead.

I admit it's not great, but it is part of a short opening paragraph that builds to a better hook.  Is it the kiss of death to rely on the opening paragraph instead of the opening sentence?

Offline lynnek

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #45 on: January 20, 2008, 12:50 PM »
Here's the opening line from my WIP, an MG:

Steven stopped twisting the hem of his shirt and kicked his bed instead.

I admit it's not great, but it is part of a short opening paragraph that builds to a better hook.  Is it the kiss of death to rely on the opening paragraph instead of the opening sentence?

If it works up to a better hook, maybe you could find a sentence that's later in that paragraph and move it up. It wouldn't necessarily be a kiss of death, but you might as well start with something right away that will draw the reader in and make them want to keep reading.

Offline pjlyons

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #46 on: January 20, 2008, 03:48 PM »
Great thread. Some of your openings are awesome! :broccoli

 Angela--I like your first opening better. Maybe just cut out some of the descriptive elements of  Magda's hiding place:

The Family tries to make like Magda is my aunt, but I knew the first time her scent reached me from her hiding spot behind The Father’s woodshed, from that first smell, I knew she was my ma.

Okay, so how can I improve the opening paragraph from my MG WIP:

The handcuffs' closing clunk ricochets 'round my skull like a boxer's bell. Your life is over, or might as well be, it declares.

pj lyons


The Art of Story

shalin

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #47 on: January 23, 2008, 08:12 AM »
Here is a site you all might like:

http://www.twitterlit.com/

They post first lines twice a day. You can even suggest a line (from a published work, of course)

My favorite first line that I've read recently, is in "Uglies" by Scott Westerfeld

"The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit."

It just makes you go Huh?  :eh2

Deb

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #48 on: January 23, 2008, 08:33 AM »
Well, PJ, fancy meeting you here  :tease

The handcuffs' closing clunk ricochets 'round my skull like a boxer's bell. Your life is over, or might as well be, it declares.

Locking handcuff ring in the new beginning to the end of my life.

Deb

Offline Larry

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #49 on: January 24, 2008, 08:06 AM »
Here's the first line/opening of one of my mg's (REPEATER)

Being born a [word censored] wasn’t my idea. I just sort of got stuck with the label and no matter how hard I tried to forget it, there was always somebody around to remind me.


Always open to suggestions... :writing3

Offline brendao

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #50 on: January 24, 2008, 08:27 AM »
Hi Bobcat,

I like it a lot... Those first words "Being born a [word censored]..." really grab (alliteration and immediate entry into the character's mind). And the second sentence is great. OK-- you said feedback was welcome, so I'll tell you my only reactions otherwise were to change "somebody" to "someone" to improve the rhythm. Nitpicky. The other is the last half of the first sentence "...wasn't my idea" could be stronger IMO. I was thinking something like "Being born a [word censored] was like..." and then coming up with something interesting that trails after a person no matter how he tries to stop it. I don't know what that might be! FWIW...

OK, here's the opening of my MG wip. And I'll take feedback too, if anyone has it!  :eh2

Please make Elvis leave the building. I want the music to stop. Never mind this song, My Way, is the reason I’m named Presley. Forget I secretly love it. Just -- not here, like this, now.

I look forward to reading more. These really get me thinking.

Offline blythe

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #51 on: January 24, 2008, 05:43 PM »
I'm new here - may as well jump in with both feet, huh?

The first line of my WIP (midgrade) is:  "Mama is dead.  And that’s just the way things are."

We have a crisis and a character responding to the crisis. Is that enough?

Jean

I like it Jean. I like it very much.
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m.pritchett

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #52 on: March 06, 2008, 06:36 PM »
So I am very much the worst person who every wrote a first line in the history of first lines. But here's my first line to my new WIP and a little bit more just because:

"Of all the depressing days I had accumulated in my life, the day I turned fifteen was without a doubt the uncontested champion.

It wasn't because my mom slept all day, or that my little sister Olivia cried when I burnt the Pizza Bagels that we were going to eat for dinner. It wasn't because Meredith Banks mocked the purple sweater I was wearing, the one that I have had since I was ten years old. It wasn't even because I couldn't find my sneaker anywhere, until I looked in Tiger's bed and there it was, all chewed up.

The simple reason that my birthday was the worst ever was that I spent the entire afternoon at a funeral."

ENJOY!  :paperbag

Rena

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #53 on: June 20, 2008, 07:23 AM »
The one word was actually a sound. I can't remember what it was exactly, but be warned--don't start out with a sound!

Gosh, I learn something new everyday.  I had no idea starting with a sound was taboo.  I have a PB that starts off that way, so probably I should change it.  Thanks for the info.

Offline sl_verant

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #54 on: July 24, 2008, 01:51 PM »
Here are the first couple of lines from SURVIVAL OF THE WEIRDEST (MG, Fantasy)

We were juvenile delinquents. At least that's what the police report said. But I didn’t think of Jake and me as criminals. I mean, it wasn’t like we were vandals, thieves, murderers, or druggies. We were just normal kids. Okay, maybe I wasn’t normal by the standard definition, and maybe I did play a part in a little vandalism, and maybe I had stolen something. But, in my opinion, my so-called crime wasn't a crime at all. I was a hero.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2011, 09:09 AM by sl_verant »
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witzl

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #55 on: July 24, 2008, 03:09 PM »
Nope, the door wouldn’t open.

He’d fiddled with the lock for the past couple of minutes; he’d tried putting in his key right-side-up and upside-down; he’d rattled the doorknob and manoeuvred it every which way, but the door wasn’t going to budge. His heart raced as he began to panic.  He could hear a rattling noise and feel something powdery trickling down on him. Rain? But it wasn't wet!  And the rain wasn’t hitting the top of his head, it was trickling over his face. In fact, it was getting in his nose and mouth. Choking him, even.

Offline amberlough

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #56 on: August 14, 2008, 12:54 PM »
Ok, here's mine, from my first novel (historical YA)...my WIP is just crap, so I can't show it to anyone yet.

I wanted to carve a map of the stars on the trees.
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Offline Amy Spitzley

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #57 on: August 14, 2008, 08:00 PM »
Oooh, I love that. Great image. (grin)
Mine's not great, although the rest of the paragraph seems to work pretty well. It's from the story I'm working on, called Scrapbook of My Revolution. And yeah, I know--I start with dialogue. (sheepish grin)

“You have such nice eyes, Amber.”
That’s what my mom said today, looking at the newly seventeen-year-old me. My eyes are light brown, just like hers. Pretty, but nothing unusual.
The rest of me is different.
 She’ll come in any minute now, tell me to start cleaning up my room or something. My mom’s cool enough but she’s kind of a neat freak.
Sorry mom, I’m just a normal freak. I tell her that all the time and she never manages to laugh.
Find your inner-deeper-hidden-secret quirky person! (grin)

Imaginator

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #58 on: August 17, 2008, 07:11 PM »
Nope, the door wouldn’t open.

He’d fiddled with the lock for the past couple of minutes; he’d tried putting in his key right-side-up and upside-down; he’d rattled the doorknob and manoeuvred it every which way, but the door wasn’t going to budge. His heart raced as he began to panic.  He could hear a rattling noise and feel something powdery trickling down on him. Rain? But it wasn't wet!  And the rain wasn’t hitting the top of his head, it was trickling over his face. In fact, it was getting in his nose and mouth. Choking him, even.


Hi witzl
It makes me wonder what's going on and why. Interesting opening lines as it starts with great excitement.


My opening lines in a WIP would be something like this. I just changed it after reading all the inputs on this thread. Good on all of you for giving me new ideas!  :yippee

It was the best of times, in the bush and under the stars, but on this summer night, it turned scarily chilly as his eyes searched the murky wilderness beyond the camp area. Suddenly he kicked, twisted and wriggled to free his legs from the folds of the extra blanket stuffed inside his sleeping bag.   
The old man laughed. “What’re you doing? You’re grunting like a trapped wombat, mate.”   
Ben stood up and tried his hardest to distinguish the moving shapes lurking in the distance. “I-I think I saw him.”

It's been changed a million times and I suspect it will happen again. I should say that it's a fantasy/adventure for MG (9-12 years) in chapters and I can't stop yet even if I'm up to 93,000 words now.

Any feedback for a newbie is most appreciative.

Lena


balletluvr

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Re: First Lines/Last Chances
« Reply #59 on: August 17, 2008, 09:19 PM »
I wonder how many of those published first lines went through numerous edits after the book was sold. I wish my first sentence was as strong as many of yours posted here.

Here's what I've finally settled on for now in my MG WIP:

Melissa paused outside the dance studio classroom.

Not very exciting, huh?

I'm setting up for a conflict, and I can't find a quicker way to get to it.

As with others, I'd appreciate your suggestions. If you need more material, I can post more.