Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Evolution of First Lines

I just saw that Rachel Harrie started her Second Crusade! I'm going to get in on it this go around. This is where she builds a list of writers so we can get together to build friendships and platforms. Check it out!

Next, don't forget to sign up for the Hone Your Skills Blogfest in the right sidebar---> Remember the submission part is OPTIONAL, so don't let that scare you away. Please advertise for us so we can have lots of people in the running for the $20 Amazon gift card.

There are several blogfests going on this week that deal with first lines. (Sorry I don't have links!) I've seen them as I've read through my google reader and wished I had caught it early enough.

Since I didn't, I'm going to have my own version of the first line fun. Here is the first line of my novel Sendek. Look how many times it has changed over the last two years.
Two or Three first lines starting with Talia's point of view. Two in 3rd person, one in 1st--Missing (stored on an external hard drive, but the cord is lost. I need to get a new one...)
Then I switched to starting with Jaron, because the scene took place 300 years earlier (sort of a trick prologue without calling it a prologue):

July 2009--The street was nearly deserted.

October 5th, 2009--Jaron set the candle on a small shelf that had been carved into the cave wall.

December 15th, 2009--As Jaron pushed open the door, he felt a rush of fetid air enfold him.

Then I went back to Talia, because, you know the book IS about her, and you should always start a novel with your MC.

February 15th, 2010--My heavy lidded eyes opened slowly. (OMGoodness! I can't believe this. Kiss of death first sentence if there ever was one.)

June 2010--Death lurked in the shadows, and I knew it searched for me.

December 5th, 2010--Today would be my last drinking of the suns for a while.

January 28th 2011--The last of Sendek’s three moons set an hour ago, but I didn’t need their light.

Today--By the time I turned seven, I knew the dreams foretold my future.

Well, what is your honest opinion? Do any of them pull you in more than the others?
I think I'm moving in the right direction, but I don't like the "I turned seven" part of the current one. My MC is in her mid to late 20's and I'm afraid mentioning age seven will throw people off.

12 comments:

  1. By the time I turned seven, I knew the dreams foretold my future.
    You are definitely heading in the right direction - can you get her voice in from the start?

    I wanted to dream of rainbows and fairies (slugs and snail/booty and boys/sunshine and daisies) when my unfolding future **** made for depressing viewing?

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  2. Elaine, This is my first paragraph:

    By the time I turned seven, I knew the dreams foretold my future. I understood they were a gift, a chance to save myself if I could find the way. I’ve dreamed of my death and the destruction of my world for as long as I can remember. While other girls dreamed of ponies and boys, I dreamed of fire and pain.

    Should I start with the last sentence? Does this sound better?

    While other girls dreamed of ponies and boys, I dreamed of fire and pain. For as long as I can remember, I dreamed of my death and the destruction of my world, but it wasn't until I was a teen that I realized they foretold my future. They were a gift, a chance to save myself if I could find the way.

    Thanks for playing! I do so much better with critiques. It always gives me a direction to look, think, and work. I love it!
    Charity

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  3. Charity, I LOVE the drinking of the suns line. It's far more intriguing than dreams fortelling the future--a trope that's been around since, oh, Biblical times. Remember Joseph the dream interpreter? :-)

    Fantasy and SciFi readers want world building extraordinaire, and that line of all of them gives the sweetest, most tempting taste of it.

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  4. Your most recent first line definitely draws the reader in more than any of the others. It gives a sense of mood, and of what the book is going to be about.

    Starting with the ponies instead, does feel like like it has more voice, but I don't think it eliminates your problem with the reader thinking the mc is younger.

    I am horrible at first lines but I think if you concentrate on having a good first paragraph, you'll be okay.

    Good luck!

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  5. I like the phrase "drinking of the suns." You should use that somewhere, even if it isn't the first line.

    My only thing about the current start is that it doesn't feel as grounded. It's a past event that doesn't really tell me anything about the current situation.

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  6. I like the January 28th version, personally.

    I am stopping by (and following) as a fellow Crusader. I write science fiction for adults and middle grade fantasy for kids, and I love to review books. I'd be pleased to see you come visit My Comfy Chair, my kidlit review blog.

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  7. I think the second version of the first paragraph is the one that works best, or at least for me it does.
    It doesn't reveal too much, but gives a sense of what's going to happen next, drawing the reader in enough to want to know what happens next, how those dreams will help her or not.

    As for the age thing, maybe you could modify the last sentence a bit to make it more clear? Something along the lines of:
    "... it wasn't until I was a teen that I realized they foretold my future. They were a gift, chance to save myself if I could find the way (here and now, at this moment, etc.)."
    Hope this helps somewhat :)

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  8. June 2010 is my favorite. It hints at something big, but not what (like your last one), so it compels the reader to read more.

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  9. Hey Charity, welcome on board the Crusade :) Can't wait for things to fully kick off!

    For a sci-fi/fantasty book, I prefer the line about the last drinking of the suns I think. Though your latest version has more voice, perhaps you can play with the drinking of the suns a bit in that respect.

    Hugs,

    Rach

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  10. Charity, I really like the last line of that first paragraph "While other girls dreamed of ponies and boys, I dreamed of fire and pain" as well as "Death lurked in the shadows, and I knew it searched for me," although the latter could also be construed as a little hokey. But, honestly, dreams of fire and pain really caught my attention. I think that's a great line.

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  11. Great writing Charity. I'm looking forward to Hone your skills too.
    bethfred.com

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  12. Thanks everyone! Mmm, now to work more voice into the line more people like. :) Off to work on it some more.

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