First Sentence: Take Two!

A few years back I wrote a post about the importance of first sentences and named a few of the ones I like from some of my favorite novels. I asked you to do the same. I continue to extend that challenge here. Feel free to list some of your favorite opening lines from books you have read (or written).

I’m taking a different spin on it here as I look at some of my own first sentences. This has been a serious consideration for me, as I am preparing to put the proverbial (and totally metaphorical) quill to paper (again, metaphorical) and start a new adventure. But, the age old question is, how should I start? What to say to immediately make my readers connect with, or at least take an interest in, the life of my characters. And which character? There are two main characters in the story. It’s true, though, what I read in…come to think of it, I don’t recall what book it was. I was browsing through a number of books on writing at Barnes and Noble the other day, and I am not sure which one said it. Anyway, it was a comment that no matter how many “main” characters we have, there is always going to be one major main character, one who owns the story just a little more. Most likely, it’s the one the story starts out with.

So, just for a fun exercise, I decided I would examine all the first sentences of my novels (finished and unfinished) and of one short story (just because I believe it’s one of my best first sentences of all). That being said, there are a couple novels whose first sentences I cannot recall and that have not been saved anywhere. Their sentences are, sadly, lost forever. But as for the others, here we go!

A Faithful Friend – “Farmer Jones marched out to the barn with a bag in his hand and a scowl on his face.” (age 8)

Runaways – L (age 9)

Racing for Victory – L (age 10)

My Friend, My Dog, My Eyes – “I remember it all perfectly: it all started one day while I was washing dishes.” (age 12)

Love Makes a DifferencePrologue: “A loud noise woke the baby, and she moved a little.” OR Ch. 1 “Joel Andrews dropped heavily into a chair, and clutched the phone to his ear.” (age 15)

Aiden: Child of the Star – “It was the boy who found him. Jack.” (age 17)

Blue SkiesPrologue: “Green was always the first color.” OR Ch. 1 “A small beam of light swept through the dark tunnel, briefly catching in its gleam the sight of twisted metal.” (age 17)

Alyraekas “’It takes a great deal of strength to run a man through with a sword.’” (no more ages :P)

RunePrologue: “The sounds of the battle froze.” OR Ch. 1: “The streets in the center of town still reflected a faint, reddish hue in the direct beams of the morning sun.”

AWOL – “Pistols to the back!”

TSOS – “Alejandra did not believe in ghosts.”

For the Love of Pete (short story)“Pete is my ex-imaginary boyfriend.”

Those are my masterpieces. My favorite one is the short story, although now that Alyraekas has been reworked, I kind of like the new first sentence. Sadly, I have no copies of my first three books and couldn’t recall the opening sentences for Racing for Victory or Runaways. I am certain they would have been as fantastically brilliant as my other earlier works. Aiden will probably never be finished (see the post about this book) but I still claim it as one of my books and was able to remember its first sentence (if only I could remember the rest of it as word for word). AWOL and Rune are still WIPs. I know prologues are not in vogue and I cut the one from Alyraekas. Blue Skies will probably never leave its (metaphorical) drawer, so I don’t feel a need to rework its prologue. As for Rune, I strongly feel it needs to be there. But I’ll try very hard to avoid them in the future.

So, now I’m at the beginning again, trying to come up with a stellar opening sentence for my new (and yet unnamed) book. I have one thought, but I’m not sure if it’s good enough.

Share your opening line struggles, or your opening sentences themselves (now that you’ve slogged through all of mine). I would love to hear them!

~ S.D. Bullard


~ by sdbullard on May 15, 2015.

3 Responses to “First Sentence: Take Two!”

  1. Opening lines kill me. (I’d say just figuratively, but sometimes it feels like literally. 🙂 ) Whenever a good one comes along, it’s just an accident. A whim of a sentence thrown onto the page that just sticks.

    Probably my favorite (which was one of those accidental ones) is for a short story I need to finish: “Eleanor Pinkerton stared out the window of Victoria’s Teahouse as she dabbed some more clotted cream on her scone and pondered the compatibility of Gibson guitars and Earl Gray tea.”

    • And I just had that awkward moment when I realized that part of the comment didn’t make it. 🙂 I really like the first sentence of your short story too. Definitely makes me want to read more!

  2. I understand the pain 🙂 I wish you luck in all your future opening sentence endeavors.

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