Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Killer First Lines
Sometimes the first lines of my own books come at me fast--like that Allstate Insurance commercial. I've lost count how many times I've bolted upright at 2 o'clock in the morning from a dead sleep with the first line of a book staring at me in the face, almost laughing at me, saying, "What took you so long? Why didn't you see me before?" Other times, I might agonize over that first sentence for weeks, even months, while I continue to write the rest of a novel. But I always come back to that first sentence, making sure it's just right. Like the porridge.
I've already broken my cardinal rule about August. Usually I take a break from book writing in August and focus on other stuff like spending time with family and friends, catching up on my TBR pile, cleaning out a closet, or something productive like that. Unfortunately I have a book idea that's already toying cruelly at the edges of my brain. It won't leave me, so I'm compelled to at least jot down an outline, even play with a few lines of dialogue, do a little research. Before I know it, a whole day passes and I'm doing exactly what I vowed not to do during August. So this week I'm not fighting it. I'm going with the flow. Next week I'll focus on closets.
I have two books that I want to write in the next 12 months: a sequel to CAPTIVE SPIRIT and another historical, although I'm not certain at this point whether that second historical will be a YA or women's fiction. It will be loosely based on a retelling of a Native American legend from the late 1800's, it will be set in Globe, Arizona, and there will be a love story. Guaranteed.
Here's the first line of my latest WIP:
People lined both sides of the dusty street for a good look at the prisoner.
Now the big question is this: Does that have you (1) Scratching your head in confusion; (2) Yawning uncontrollably; or (3) Wanting to see more? No doubt I'll rewrite it 20 more times.
Anyway, does the first line of a novel have to be killer for you to keep reading? As readers, how much time do you give a book to put its hooks in you--the first sentence? The first paragraph? A few chapters?
Other stuff: I'm guest blogging at The Long And Short Reviews today, talking about my experience with Carina Press and "The Call." Stop by if you've got time!