As the clock struck thirteen, the pope picked up her empty packet of contraceptive pills and told her husband he’d need to use a condom….
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about first lines. How to have a cracking first line that will make people want to read on. How to have a truly crazy first line that will grab someone by the proverbial (insert body part here) and make them carry on reading. Especially in these days of instant gratification, where people have short attention spans. You can’t have a few pages of purple prose, no matter how beautiful it is, if it doesn’t grab the reader, you’ve sadly lost them.
The concept of a great first line came to me when I first started writing, obviously, but that was many years ago. You get told numerous times by teachers at school, tutors, writing instructors, that you must hook your reader with a great first line, paragraph or page. I’d paid attention to this advice, but I’d never really worked hard on that first sentence until a while back when I read, ‘Waking Up Pregnant’ by Mira Lynn Kelly. Mira not only has a great first line on the first page, but has a great first line at the start of every new chapter or scene change! I literally couldn’t put the book down because just glancing at the next chapter and scanning my eyes over the first line would hook me again and force me to carry on reading!
I love that book. I learned a lot from that book and it really enforced my writing. It made me look at the books I’d written so far and examine those crucial first sentences. Were they as good as they could be?
I looked at the first lines of the books I’ve written so far and wondered whether I’d done the best with them that I could? Here they are below:
1. Callie Taylor stared hard at the pregnancy test kit.
2. “All these cameras are driving me crazy! How the hell are you supposed to get any privacy around here?”
3. “Ben? Ben, it’s me…open your eyes.”
So what about you? What’s your favourite first line of a book you’ve written? And your favourite first line from someone else?
(The Baby That Changed Her Life will be released January 2015)