The First Words


As I have stated before, I have been doing a lot of research on writing. I have been soaking up everything I can that will help me in my writing. Of course, I bring that to my blog and share with my readers because we have to help each other out, but most of it you have already heard.

The thing I have been reading about this week is that first sentence, paragraph, or page of your novel. My first sentence of my WIP  is “I don’t know who I am.”  I think I am going to eventually change it now that I know the importance of the first line, but how do you know you have a good first line?

What really constitutes a good first line?  All the things I have read, there is a lot that must be said at the beginning of a book.  You have to know who your protagonist is and what their issue is.  You have to give a summarized background that can bring the reader to the present, but not give to much away.

But it’s really that very first line that grabs the readers attention.

In my own experience I have read the book blurb, and then the first paragraph.  Of course, if it makes it that far I will look at reviews on goodreads, not that reviews have much to do with me reading it.

I decided to look up a few first lines of some of my favorite books, just to see how much their first lines drag a reader in.

  1. Twilight by Stephanie Meyers –  “I’d never given much thought to how I would die — though I’d had reason enough in
    the last few months — but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.”
    **Yes, I admit to reading this book…all four.  And loving it.  I didn’t care as much for the movies, but I love the books.  I remember reading the first line of the book and wanting nothing more than to sit in the floor of Target and read that book then.  I bought the book, took it home, and let the Twilight world swallow me whole. I couldn’t put the book down and I don’t care what anyone says.  The first line is genius though.
  2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling – “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
    **First, when someone says something about being normal, you know something is about to go down. Second, they sound so snooty, you just have to keep reading to find out what is going on. I don’t remember reading the first line of Harry Potter.  I didn’t find the book at the store and fall in love with the cover or the blurb.  I honestly started reading Harry Potter just because so many people were against the book.  I don’t know how many people remember, but when Harry Potter first come out, there was a ton of hate surrounding it because of the whole witch factor.  I laugh at the protesters now.
  3. The Gunslinger by Stephen King – “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”
    **Who is the Man in black and why is the gunslinger following him??!! Seriously, this was one of the first Stephen King books I read and I was hooked from that first line. You know what Mr. King does here? He speaks to the inner curiosity of us all.  We read because we want to know who the man in black is and why he is running.  Is the gunslinger following or chasing?
  4. Dead Witch Waling by Kim Harrison – “I stood in the shadows of a deserted shop front across from The Blood and Brew Pub, trying not to be obvious as I tugged my black leather pants back up where they belonged.”
    **I love a strong female character and leather pants just scream power.
  5. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris – “I’d been waiting for the vampire for years when he walked into the bar.”
    **I have told you all of my obsession with vampires. You say vampire and I am in.  But I will admit that I didn’t even know about the Sookie Stackhouse novels until I heard about True Blood.  And since I didn’t have HBO at the time, I had to resort to the books to see what everyone was talking about.

This post has become a little long, and I am sorry about that.  I have fallen in love with finding the first line of my favorite novels. It’s amazing how one line can hook a reader.  It’s also a little scary how important those first words can be to the success of your novel.

Tell me, what is the first line of your favorite novel, or even, what is the first line of your WIP?


5 thoughts on “The First Words

  1. coffeennotes says:

    I love first lines. Therer are so many great ones, that can’t compare yourself to them or you will never write, lol. Getting inspired by them is very addicted as well. After years of writing and a few nanos I’ve learn to just write. Let the first draft be a story that just can’t wait to be written. To enjoy the flow of words, as the get written down. Sometimes you may know the ended, but sometimes you just follow the charcters, both are great and fun. Oops sorry for the long comment, lol.

    • Heather M. says:

      I love long comments! It means I have inspired a thought. lol I have actually learned through this NaNo that just writing is the best way to go. It’s the first one I have really participated in and until now I have always written a little bit and gone back to edit. I now see how that can really hinder the story.

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