Looks like summer's winding down. My break has come to an end and it's time to get back to work.
Everything’s in place. The first draft has been written and edited. The plot has been laid out, poked, and prodded from every imaginable angle in my search for holes. Those I’ve found have been plugged. I’ve delved into the past of my main characters in my search for their motivation, the driving force that will move them forward in the face of impossible odds. I’ve explored their fears growing up, tying everything together to lead them to the final confrontation.
There is but one thing lacking before I can begin the final rewrite. A simple little thing really. Comprised of anywhere from five to fifteen words. Something I’ve spent the past few weeks searching for.
I can feel it, hiding right on the tip of my tongue, waiting for me to stumble upon it.
The first sentence of the story.
Stephen King recently shared his thoughts on first sentences with Joe Fassler at The Atlantic.
He said: “But there's one thing I'm sure about. An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.”
Joe also asked a number of notable authors what their favorite first lines were.
Below I list the first line from the last ten books I’ve read. Can you guess what they are? (Hint: None of them are mine.)
Shadow had done three years in prison.
It has been said that nature does not know extinction.
As soon as he saw the old Pingree School schoolhouse, Pete Garvey knew that what had been bothering him all along had something to do with it.
Ignatus Martin Parrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things.
When Billy Hunter saw spiders in the walls, it was Eileen Westwood that chased them away with broom or duster.
When the first drop fell, Michael Richards was sitting by himself in front of his word processor and dictating a letter to one of his fans.
At the railroad station in Borodino, Evgeny Chirkov was separated from his unit.
“You can’t come,” his older brother said.
They rode west from the slaughter, through the painted desert, and did not stop until they were a hundred miles away.
I never solved the mystery of how my Uncle Silas came to own Elmer Harrod’s haunted house in Arkham, but I suspect it had something to do with his fondness for campy horror films.
What are some of your most recently read first lines?