Monday, February 4, 2008

Opening Lines

I love writing beginnings. I bet I start ten stories for every one that I finish. My favorite part of writing a beginning is coming up with an opening line. It feels like a golden opportunity to say something strange or shocking and grab the reader's attention. I always try to pay attention to opening lines when I'm reading, too. I think they are a little like pick-up lines. You have to ask yourself, " Would I go home with this novel? Would I make it breakfast in the morning?" We are asking the reader to take a chance on us, and you only get one opportunity to make a (weird) first impression. What is it they say? How a story begins determines whether you will read it, and how it ends determines whether you'll recommend it to someone else? I think both are true for me.
Did you ever read a story that really "had you at hello"?


Norma Boe said...

Coyote Kings of the Space Age Bachelor Pad by Minister Faust had me before the first sentence.

The book starts with the Character Data Sheet (for all you role-playing geeks) that includes "Scent" (questionable) and "Bladder/Colon Carrying Capacity." Chapter One is titled, "I wash dishes for scumbags," and starts with a quote from "B. Kenobi, failed tour guide."

I'd let this book eat crackers and clip toe nails in bed. Heck, I'd clip its toe nails so it could have it's hands free for the Ritz Bits.

Jason said...

Sometimes I want to start stories off with just such a pick-up line. I don't even have a plot let alone a back-story to go with the line. I just have a line. I think who would say this and why? How can I cram my protagonist into a situation where they can fire this baby off?

Sometimes this leads to stories that are all talk and no action; it's like talking your way into her apartment only to settle into the couch and flip on the TV.

Laura Bradley Rede said...

Jason, I do exactly the same thing. Promise you won't tell anyone that I agreed with you ;)

Laura Bradley Rede said...

Norma, the one that came to my mind is in Writers of the Future volume seventeen. David Lowe's story "Marketplace of Souls" starts with "When Esperanza was fifteen, she decided to sell her brain to the fat gringo." A great way to start a story if you ask me.