Thursday, April 14, 2011

First Lines: Make them count

Doesn't it seem like everytime you go to write your first line your mind goes static-clingy and you pick up every one else's super fantastic first lines and it's hard to come up with something original? Almost like you want to be apart of someone else's brilliance. (That is IF you have done your homework and read a lot).

Here's the thing, everytime we write we have eccos of someone else's work roaming around our subconsious. It's hard to step away from what we know or subconsiously know and create something comepletely unique to us, or our work.

To come up with a brand-spanking-new first line, we need to come up with something that is ONE: Orinignal. TWO: Catches the reader's attention. THREE: Makes the reader want to continue reading. And FOUR: Give us a sense or feel for what the book is going to be about.

Start out quirky, thoughtful, happy, silly, scared, mind-blowing, but DON'T start out boring or
blasé.  Numerous people have given advice on this. Like, don't talk about the weather. Don't start so full of action that it gives the reader whiplash. Don't start off with the character alone, thinking...the list goes on and on and on and on. 
Something that helps me is to think about my VOICE. What do I want that to sound like in this book? It really helps me (for my own vices in writing) not to take myself too seriously. Even if I want my book to be serious in nature (which I tend to do more than I think I probably should), I should step back and relax. When I'm loose, my writing is actually more fluid and fun. And definitely more interesting. Sometimes I think writers, particularly new ones, take it SOOO seriously that they can't have fun with it. They (and I include myself in this) tend to write so crisp and try to be so perfect that they end up being anything but. AND in the process write the same thing over and over again (check your work and admit I'm right). The same sentance structure, the same prose. They have TICKS.

Yeah, this kitten is supposed to be talking, but I couldn't think of what it should say.

So, Give it voice, give it love, humor, horror. JUST GIVE IT FEELING and DEPTH.

And if you can't capture it on the first try. Don't sweat it. Try and try again until you get that perfection you crave. Read other people's work, get inspiration, but then come back with that inspiration and forget everything you read. It may sound tricky, but trust me, with enough practice you can do it!


Elena Solodow said...

You hear this over and over and it's so, so true. The key is expanding that unique first line and making every line in the book a first line!

C.E. Hart said...

I not only stress over the first line, but the last line as well. I enjoyed your post.

(Oh - and I agree... so much repetition. When you look for it, it really stands out.)