There is something beautiful and terrifying about a blank page. Endless possibilities. A thousand worlds, lives, and actions lie at your fingertips. But as soon you set down that first word – or that first letter of the first word – you have limited your possibilities. Before, the sky was the limit. And after? The limit resides in whatever muddled mess your highly caffeinated brain can concoct.
If you’ve been around the writing or reading game for any length of time, you will know that first lines are terribly (an wonderfully) important. Have you ever picked a book up in a bookstore, flipped open to the first page, and then bought the book based on the first lines alone?
I know I have.
But in my opinion, it’s not only the first lines of the book, but the first lines of each chapter and scene that can help make or break your novel. Coming up with so many eye-catching first lines can be daunting, to say the least. I’m currently diving into the first draft of Book Three in the Songkeeper Chronicles – at the moment, I’m somewhere in between the two stages of #firstdraftwoes and #firstdraftbliss – and the more I’ve been playing around with my beginning, the more it seems like all the excellent first lines are already taken!
Let me throw a few attempts your way, and you’ll see what I mean.
In a hole in the ground there lived a Songkeeper.
Granted, this takes the story in a slightly different direction than I was originally intending… but there’s just something about this line that reads “classic.” Don’t you agree?
Once there were four children whose names were Ky, Cade, Paddy, and Meli.
“Once” sounds rather fairytale-ish. It just doesn’t set the right tone for this story. And for some reason, I keep picturing lions, witches, and wardrobes … Not to mention a faun and a lamp post. Not sure what’s up with that.
Amos was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that … Old Amos was as dead as a doornail.
Oh dear, spoiler alert! Can’t believe I let that one slip … Just kidding! You can hold onto your knives, stow your daggers, and dispose of all that rotten fruit you were about to send my way. Once again though, the voice is just not quite right for the Songkeeper Chronicles. Though it is certainly eye catching …
(Did I say I was just kidding?)
Ky wanted to make a sword; but Cade, charged with the practical side of his education, decided on horseshoes.
Oddly enough, this one almost fits with the characters in question. Except backwards. Cade being the son of a swordsmith and all … and Ky being the more practical one.
Well, as you can see, I’m stumped. Any lovely (false) book beginnings you would care to suggest for the start of Book Three of the Songkeeper Chronicles? Top points to anyone who can correctly quote the first lines I mentioned above!
Very tongue in cheek, yours most (in)sincerely,
Gillian Bronte Adams