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Trait-focused first lines

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Hello again,

I’ve just realized that I’m starting to fall into what seems to me to be a very bad first line habit.  In an attempt to focus on an important character trait quickly, I’m falling into lines like “CHARACTER was a ——ER” or “CHARACTER loved —-ING”.  I’m going to be researching my own favorite books to see how they avoid this, but I would love to see other examples.  What are some great PB first lines that introduce a character and the most relevant trait quickly, but in a more interesting way?  (Editing to say, or maybe it’s not so bad after all, so long as you don’t overdo it?  Looking through some great PB opening line blog posts I’m seeing that actually quite a few good character-driven stories seem to start along those lines.  Opinions?)
#1 - February 10, 2019, 06:23 AM
« Last Edit: February 10, 2019, 07:13 AM by sarah-garcia-morgan »

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What a great question! (It's made me realize I do the same thing as you!!)

Here are a couple ideas....

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri first line:

Hey, kid!
Did you know that dragons love tacos?

Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev and Taeeun Yoo first line:

No one else has an elephant.





#2 - February 10, 2019, 07:26 AM

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Carrots,

Good to know I’m not the only one!  Thanks for the lines :)
#3 - February 10, 2019, 09:30 AM

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What about having the character doing the thing they love and showing that trait instead of telling it? Of course, some traits are easier to show than others. I'm making one up as an example.

"Mine," Jacob said as he grabbed Lauren's train car. "Mine. Mine. Mine." Jacob grabbed all of the cars except one.

This gives an idea of Jacob's character without spelling it out. And the one he couldn't grab might set up the main conflict among two toddlers or siblings.


I hope this helps.



#4 - February 10, 2019, 06:19 PM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
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Thanks, Debbie.  In one case that I’m questioning, I actually do go on to provide examples of the character doing what they love immediately afterward, but it still sounds better to me with the statement beforehand (and I haven’t had any critique partners cut just that sentence yet, either).  But I’m questioning it... 

In another case (where I realized oops- maybe that’s a pattern), a critique partner suggested i cut the first paragraph entirely and it’s definitely better that way. 

Will try that out the next time I find myself doing it though, for sure.
#5 - February 11, 2019, 04:27 AM

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