Monday, April 18, 2011

O ~ Exercising OPENING LINES

I take my initial impression of a book from its front cover. I absolutely LOVE cover art! We know that the first page and chapter are vital, as well. After all, it's the story a reader is after. And as much as I adore a vibrant image painting a book jacket, I also covet the first sentence.

Man, can that set a tone and impression. So I've come up with a little exercise, creating ten opening lines. I didn't stress over it, just had fun, jotting down the first ideas that came to my mind.

This is a good exercise to do when you're stumped in your current WIP or anytime, really. It can get those creative juices flowing and charge ideas you didn't even know you had.

~ My ice cream cone fell next to the dead body.
~ I couldn't hear him, on account of the chainsaw.
~ The moment he saw her fall, he knew there was no turning back.
~ It was that way in a small town: private business is everyone's business.
~ The woman gave me a haughty grin as she passed me the lead pipe.
~ Peering over the seat, I saw him.
~ I held the metal tool above my head, ready to strike.
~ His heartbeat played a lullaby against my spine.
~ I had no idea what was coming, and if I had I wouldn't have stepped into the booth.
~ The makeup went on clean, covering up last night.

Link 2 Other Participants
Your turn. Give it a try and see what inspires some optimism in an opening line for you. Do you have a favorite line from a book? What about one you've written?

This is from my current YA novel: The first time it happens I am six years old and sitting next to a severed Barbie doll head.


  1. Great first line. Here's one I'm thinking of: She never would have guessed that picking up a piece of trash would change her life.

  2. I still love this one from The Almost Moon, although I didn't like the book much: When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily.

    I am also a book judger by its cover - cover art never lets me down :)

    Wagging Tales - Blog for Writers

  3. These are awesome. I love the first line to your current novel. Okay, I'm posting one of my first lines from my first novel still in revisions.
    The brown pill bottle that sat on the counter was the best birthday present ever.
    I'm going to lock myself in the closet now. That probably sounds so horrible. I will go work on it now.

  4. Love this!! I stared at my WIP for a few minutes this morning, wondering how to start the next chapter. Now I know what to do - you've made me excited to get to it! Thanks! I just love your blog. :)

  5. I adore my opening line at the moment, permit me to show you:

    Cindy Bindy Boo wanted to be a Superhero when she grew up; she vowed by the hair on her chinny chin chin that she would give her money to the poor, save all animals from abuse and make the world a place of smiles; but as sweet little Cindy skipped down Time Square on this cold and windy June, little did she know it would be her last.

    I love the tone, characterization and the little mini-plot.

    I also adore yours, it's fantastic!

    But my most favorite opening line would have to be this one, from writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez:

    Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

    Love, love, love this!

  6. Wow, I love all your lines, Sheri.

    I'm going to try it out. I want to rewrite (well add in) two new paragraphs for my WIP. This exercise might be EXACTLY what I need to get started. Thanks!!!!!!

  7. I love great opening lines. I also try and come up with that during the prewriting so I have a jumping off point. I love your first one because of the juxtaposition of an icecream cone and a dead body. Shocking, funny, and serious. I'd read that novel.

  8. Opening lines are so tricky! I'm still working on mine...I like the exercise you did. Great idea!

  9. Should I be scared of you? Just kidding. Maybe... And on a serious note "I couldn't hear him, on account of the chainsaw." has impact.

  10. Those are some stimulating opening lines! The one (currently) from my ms is "I believed escape was possible until I tried it." But who knows if that one will stick ... it's changed several times.

  11. Fun exercise!! Sometimes I actually do start a story that way (I am such a pantser). My favorite from above is "~ His heartbeat played a lullaby against my spine." Love that. :D

  12. What fun! You came up with some great ones, Sheri.

  13. I didn't use to pay attention to opening lines until I read "the Graveyard Book" not long ago. The way he introduced the knife (I wish I had the book on hand to share but I don't) just wowed me instantly.
    So now I want my opening line to wow someone one day. :)

  14. I love great opening lines! Mine don't come out so hot though. My current one is "It all started when my mother asked me what I wanted for my birthday." Yeah. I'm still working on that one.

  15. ooh, those are ALL really good. The first line of the YA novel I'm querying is 'I suppose I could drown him.'

  16. Those were some pretty cool first lines! Here's an example of what not to write in your first line. I put the book down straight away. It's still on my bookshelf unread. This is what it said: 'Humans: you either want to fuck them all kill them." Lovely, huh?

  17. Cool! That's always a fun exercise. :) Here's the first line from my WIP:

    Dad slid a small, velvet box across the cracked formica table. “Neil thinks this is at least two thousand years old, possibly older.”

    Some of my all-time favorite first lines are from The Adoration of Jenna Fox:
    I used to be someone. Someone named Jenna Fox.

    And from Inexcusable by Chris Lynch:
    The way it looks is not the way it is.

    And from Feed by MT Anderson:
    We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.

    I read those first lines, and simply could not put the book down afterward. :)

  18. I started Sliding on the Edge with, "Something's wrong." Not terribly brilliant, but my editor liked it. For Princess it was "Last night I pleaded with Death, but he turned a bony back to me, pushed Hope into the corridor and shut the door.

    I still love this from Bedeviled, "The first thing I did was steal a body."

    I sound kind of dark, don't I? I'm not. Not really.

    Loved the cool first lines from others.

  19. LOVE!!!! My two favorites: I couldn't hear him, on account of the chainsaw, and
    The makeup went on clean, covering up last night. :-) I finally feel like I have a great opening line with book #3-whew!

  20. Wow, you sound like a murder mystery writer, with those first lines!
    Great writing exercise, BTW.

  21. This is so much fun! I'm going to cheat and include two lines from my current WIP:
    Finding out I was cursed was one thing. Finding out my first ever crush was going to be eaten by a giant octopus was another.

  22. These are great. My first sentence is "It's funny how a split second can change a guy's life."

  23. Those are great, Sheri.
    Here's the first line from my WIP:
    "I awoke to rustling outside my tent."

  24. Those are good.

    "Can I tell you about the time my bathtub sent me back in time?"

  25. Yep, agreed, first lines can hook you!

    I better go and examine mine :)

    Duncan In Kuantan

  26. This is such a great exercise. Thanks for the tip!

    Becca @ The Bookshelf Muse

  27. Ooh, great exercise. Love your first lines :)




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