Author Topic: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?  (Read 778720 times)

Offline Oceaxe

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5025 on: December 30, 2016, 07:32:20 PM »
Mmmm..

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Think of how many books are memorable by their first line.

But are they memorable because you've finished reading the book and loved it? I'd go for a paragraph being more important than a line though you may recall, after reading the book, the first line. Consider..

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SQUIRE TRELAWNEY, Dr. Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 17__ and go back to the time when my father kept the Admiral Benbow inn and the brown old seaman with the sabre cut first took up his lodging under our roof.

Fabulous, but I don't think it gets going until the "brown, old seaman..." And all one sentence! Imaging how that would have been savaged if posted here  :)

« Last Edit: December 30, 2016, 07:34:52 PM by Oceaxe »
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)

Offline Arkie

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5026 on: December 30, 2016, 08:20:37 PM »
Mmmm..

But are they memorable because you've finished reading the book and loved it? I'd go for a paragraph being more important than a line though you may recall, after reading the book, the first line. Consider..




The Hobbit, yes. Tale of Two Cities, no. Anna Karenina, also no. But I remember the first line. I don't think that a book simply must have a great opener to be a great book, not at all. But I just think that it's worth taking a little time to think about openings, and make them as good as you can. The opening to Treasure Island fits, and it introduces some key players in the story, brings up the idea of a secret island, buried treasure, mentions the setting where the story begins and the inciting event that sets off the story. Just because it's in an older style doesn't mean that it isn't a good opener. You know you are going to be up to your ears in pirates soon enough.

Offline Oceaxe

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5027 on: December 31, 2016, 07:11:17 AM »
Arkie: I agree with you substantially but the opening to Treasure Island introduces two characters we hardly meet again (give me Israel Hands, Blind Pugh and Long John any day).

IMHO what it does is say to you "Sit down here by this log fire, have and glass of sherry and listen while I tell you a story." Which is more a feeling, a tone, than an information dump.
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)

Offline qb

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5028 on: January 03, 2017, 08:46:40 PM »
just thought i'd pitch up in the middle of a conversation to say that ... something very interesting i noticed a long time ago and that i watch out for in every book i read, and ive read tons of books ... it's something that occurs obviously to me in 90% of the quality fiction i read:

ive noticed writers keep it simple in terms of style for the first 5 pages or so. nothing flashy. nothing that makes you say 'wow'. and only a bit later, maybe 5 or 10 pages in, there is the first wonderful metaphor straight off the poetry presses.

an example of an exception so you can get my drift is the god of small things by arundhati roy. straightaway on page one is a very powerful image of (name of fruit i cant remember) exploding off the branches. but i think that's unusual.

this is just something ive noticed over time. it might be that ive got selection bias though and edit out examples that dont fit my theory. saying that, here is my theory: writers dont drop the first style bomb for at least 5 pages because its the story thats important. the style comes from the story. the style organically comes out of the story.

or maybe theyre just warming up and it takes five pages LOL

Offline Laura H

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5029 on: January 26, 2017, 09:02:07 PM »
Another first line, anyone?
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ― Maya Angelou

“Don't be like the rest of them, darling.” ― Eudora Welty

Offline Arkie

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5030 on: January 26, 2017, 09:08:38 PM »
Oh, this one was from a very old short story I wrote. Haven't touched it in an age, but ought to drag it out again.

"Oh, God, as I have been a good man, please make the cockroaches stop singing."

Offline Laura H

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5031 on: January 26, 2017, 09:47:12 PM »
What about a statement for your start?  The cockroaches are singing again. That leaves me with questions which means I would read on.

For some reason I can't pinpoint, the opening complaint to god didn't grab me.

Let's see what the others think.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ― Maya Angelou

“Don't be like the rest of them, darling.” ― Eudora Welty

Jo Bannister

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5032 on: January 27, 2017, 03:52:57 AM »
I rather like it.  Lord knows where it's heading, but I'd keep reading.

hillwalker3000

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5033 on: January 27, 2017, 04:43:04 AM »
"Oh, God, as I have been a good man, please make the cockroaches stop singing."

It would depend on what happens next. I'm intrigued, but it could be the ravings of a sorry soul who then proceeds to tell us his life story.

H3K

Offline Oceaxe

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5034 on: January 27, 2017, 06:02:34 AM »
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"Oh, God, as I have been a good man, please make the cockroaches stop singing."

It is a cracker. I keep wondering about sentence number two...

"Samson Quint closed his eyes and tightened his grip on the young woman's throat."
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)

Offline Arkie

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5035 on: January 27, 2017, 08:43:35 AM »
 ;It's been a while since I even looked at that short story. That was back when you could stuff your fantasy short stories in an envelope, send a self addressed stamped envelope with it and wait for the editor to reject you. That one got rejected, but I counted it a positive that it actually got read, because I had comments on three pages.
Better than nothing.

The second line if I remember was, "They sing with the voices of angels, but loud, so loud."
It was a descent into madness plot. The protagonist, a minister, gets hit with a curse that lets him understand the speech of all animals, and that doesn't turn out so well for him as it does in fairy tales. I wrote it probably twenty years ago? I've still got it tucked away somewhere.

Offline Arkie

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5036 on: January 27, 2017, 09:19:03 AM »
In retrospect, I'm kind of glad that story ended up in the bone pile. Sometimes there are just stories that have to be written because if they don't get out, they'll do damage inside. That short story was something like that. Very raw, very true emotions; a lot of pain. Probably a good thing not to inflict it on anybody else, but it was needful to write it.

Offline Oceaxe

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5037 on: January 27, 2017, 10:33:57 AM »
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"They sing with the voices of angels, but loud, so loud."

LOL - I was close then :)
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)

Offline Arkie

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5038 on: January 27, 2017, 11:42:07 AM »
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LOL - I was close then Smiley

Yep. Hillwalker, too. So at least I didn't mislead the reader. ;D

hillwalker3000

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Re: First Liners - Would a publisher want to read more?
« Reply #5039 on: January 30, 2017, 05:57:43 AM »
It's too quiet on here - and no, that's not the first line.

I thought I'd throw this out from a short story I've just completed. If you'd rather have the entire paragraph to pull apart I can add more.

This wasn't the first execution Marie had attended.

H3K