It’s the first Wednesday of the month and time to share our hopes, dreams and fears with the Insecure Writers Support Group, the brainchild of Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, and this month’s hosts are; Mary Aalgaard, Bish Denham, Jennifer Hawes, Diane Burton, and Gwen Gardner. (Please stop by to say hello to them).
Last month I went to a book quiz with a couple of writer friends, and one of the rounds was on first lines…
“Oh no,” I thought. “People always bang on about first lines and I’m rubbish at them. I know the first line of Pride & Prejudice (like everyone else), but that’s it.”
But then I had an epiphany moment. Let me show you.
- “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.
- All children, except one, grow up.
- Garp’s mother, Jenny Fields, was arrested in Boston, in 1942 for wounding a man in a theatre.
- It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
- There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.
- In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf.
- As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into an enormous insect.
- It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.
I might not know the lines by memory, I might not even have read the book, but that first sentence gives some kind of clue about the rest of the book.
Lots of them have a main character’s name. That’s a big clue. Others might give you a place or an event that sets the time for you. Or you may not recognise the name, but turning into an enormous insect might be a bit of a clue.
Not all novels give pointers in this way, and that doesn’t make them worse because they’re likely setting the scene in some other way, by grabbing the attention or posing questions. It’s given me a new insight and something to think about when putting together the first line for my next story or novel.
I’ll post the answers next week. In the meantime, what novels do you think they’re from? (No cheating!!)