First Lines: Epilogue

 

While cracking the covers of well-loved, read-only-once, and couldn’t-stand-this books for my First Lines series, I wondered…

How does this work? First lines, I mean. First paragraphs, sentences, pages. What are authors thinking?

I’ve got to kill it with this opening or else…

Or is it a little less sinister? Like, I want to hook the reader but, really, I’ve got a whole novel to show off my mad skills—the first page doesn’t have to be memorable, only the story does.

Or maybe simply: I suppose the beginning should be good but, eh, I like ‘She ate a piece of bread.’ and I’m keeping it.

The words that introduce you to a new character or bring you into a new world…how important are they?

Some books are so well-known that it doesn’t matter as much because, when you pick up Lord of the Rings, you know it’s going to be a fantasy. When you grab Hunger Games, you know it’s Dystopian. But authors generally don’t know their book will be famous when they write it. Well, excluding Stephen King.

Who? Exactly.

So, back to non-rock-star-authors. What are they feeling as they sit down to type that very first line? As a YA author, for instance, do they feel the need to bring readers into their world right away? Let them know the story won’t be taking place at South Mundane High School on Main Street?

Maybe it’s not the age group as much as the genre: dystopian, science fiction, fantasy… Or perhaps it’s not the age group or genre but the person writing the book. Rules, tips, and advice aside, writing is an individual sport.

Whatever the process, however the pages come about, I’m glad they do. Because I love reading them. How would I cope in a world without books? I don’t even want to think about it. It’s creepy. And wrong. Like a world without cheese.

So, while I’m obsessed with passionate about first lines, and while I collect them and read them over and over and write them down (or highlight them in e-books), I’ve read stunning first lines and hated the book. Also, I continue reading even if the first lines don’t knock it out of the park. After all, one of my favorite books of all time begins, “Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy.”

 

First Lines CoN Epilogue

 

First Lines: Children’s Books

First Lines: Middle Grade

First Lines: Young Adult

First Lines: SABGUS (Socially Acceptable Books for Grown-Ups)

First Lines: Picture Books

 

First Lines: Picture Books

 

Another First Lines post which was surprisingly enjoyable to compile. Also, it was a bit nostalgic.

This one is dedicated to my friend and fellow blogger, Norah, who thought a First Lines: Picture Books would be a grand idea. And she was right.

Some will argue that first lines aren’t important in picture books. Eh. Maybe. I’m not sure. They are a hook just the same as any other but you don’t need to keep the reader’s attention as long. (Which is not the point of a hook anyway.) Either way, it was fun to flip through these beautifully illustrated stories to find first lines.

Have you read any of these to your children? Did you read any when you were a child?

 

“There was once a Velveteen Rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid.”

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Illustrated by Robyn Officer

 

“The sun is tired. It goes down the sky into the drowsy hills. The sunflowers lean. They fall asleep to dream of tomorrow’s sun.”

The Moon Jumpers by Janice May Udry Illustrated by Maurice Sendak

 

“No one ever came to Bear’s house. It had always been that way, and Bear was quite sure he didn’t like visitors. He even had a sign.”

A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

 

“Once, in a beautiful, faraway land…that was, somehow, not so very far…a land where every stone was a teacher and every breeze a language, where every lake was a mirror and every tree a ladder to the stars, into this far and lovely land there fell…a truth.”

Old Turtle and the Broken Truth by Douglas Wood Illustrated by Jon J Muth

 

“Once, long long ago…yet somehow, not so very long…when all the animals and rocks and winds and waters and trees and birds and fish and all the beings of the world could speak…and understand one another…there began…an argument.”

Old Turtle by Douglas Wood Illustrated by Cheng-Khee Chee

 

“Puff, the Magic Dragon, lived by the sea, and frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honalee.”

Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow / Lenny Lipton Illustrated by Eric Puybaret

 

“At the edge of every day, the Night Eater ran behind the moon. And as he ran, the Night Eater gobbled up the darkness.”

The Night Eater by Ana Juan  

 

“Mr. and Mrs. Mallard were looking for a place to live.”

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

 

“Tonight, when I looked under my bed for my monster, I found this note instead.

‘Gone fishing. Back in a week. – Gabe’”

I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll Illustrated by Howard McWilliam

 

“There once was a city without gardens or trees or greenery of any kind. Most people spent their time indoors. As you can imagine, it was a very dreary place.”

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

 

“Oscar loved his boy. He also loved stinky cat food for breakfast and crunchy cat food for dinner.”

Oscar and the Mooncats by Lynda Gene Rymond Illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli

 

“Over 100 years ago, as the stars swirled in the sky, as the Earth circled the sun, as the March winds blew through a little town by a river, a baby boy was born. His parents named him Albert.”

On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne Illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky

 

“It was autumn. In the hush of the forest a lone yellow leaf clung to the branch of a great oak tree.”

The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger

 

“Once there was a Little Rabbit who did not like himself. He had soft pink ears, bright red eyes, and a short, fluffy tail. He was a beautiful little rabbit. But he wanted to be anything except what he was.”

The Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey Illustrated by Chris Santoro

 

“Imagine a place…

where you bend and sway, leap and land, right where a story begins.”

Imagine a Place by Sarah L. Thomson Illustrated by Rob Gonsalves

 

“Imagine a day…

when you can dive down through branches or swim up to the sun.”

Imagine a Day by Sarah L. Thomson Illustrated by Rob Gonsalves

 

“Imagine a night…

when snow white sheets grow crisp and cold, and someone whispers, ‘Follow me’.”

Imagine a Night by Sarah L. Thomson Illustrated by Rob Gonsalves


First Lines PictureBook

 

Next up:

First Lines: Epilogue

As a reader (and a writer) how important are first lines to you?