Friday, April 26, 2013

First Words

First, I'm featured on Life of Bon today as one of her sponsors! We're talking about spring break. There's a contest too! So head on over there and vote for MY story! :-)

If you're visiting from there, hi! I have a little introduction post that I wrote when I was on Bon's blog for her giveaway. You can check it out here.


This past month, I have been participating in Camp NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is in November and crazy people like me write a 50k word novel in 30 days. Not a very good novel, just a rough draft, but still a novel.

Camp NaNoWriMo is twice a year (April and July I believe) and is a relaxed version of this. When NaNoWriMo is strictly 50k and a new fictional story you have never worked on before, Camp is lenient on these rules. You can pick whatever project you want. A story you've been working on or have worked on in the past, a script, memoir, essays, whatever. You also can pick your own word count goal.

I thought it would be a great time for me to work on wrapping up one of the stories I've been working on for a long time now. I set my work count goal for 25k. I finished the rough draft (A first - EVER!) but I fell short of my word count goal. Which is sad. I might be able to do some more though so I can accomplish this. We'll see.

Anyways. For awhile I had a hard time figuring out how I wanted the story to begin. The opening chapter, paragraph, and sentence are cruicial to the story. It sets the stage for what's about to happen. The read immediately gets a taste of what the book will be like. It's a lot of pressure, even for a rough draft.

If you don't know where this quote comes from, I am sad. It's one of the best first lines ever. Source
At first I skipped the beginning and went right to the parts I knew what I wanted. Then this past week I had to go back to the beginning. It was rough. Eventually I did get a decent beginning that I can work with. Getting there was difficult.

It got me to thinking about the beginnings of stories and how important they are. I remember when we would watch movies at home, my mom would always want to be sure she was there when the movie started because it was her favorite part. Even if she had scene it before.

I dug through my bookshelves and found some of my all time favorite first lines from books:

In the dark hour before dawn, all the shutters in the great hall were closed against the evil vapors of the night. - The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick

All children, except one, grow up.
- Peter Pan by J.M Barrie

"Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents," grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

The circus arrives without warning. 
- The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderly again.
- Rebecca by Daphene DuMaurier

The opera ghost really existed. 
- The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

I'd been waiting for the vampire for years when he walked into the bar. 
- Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.
- Gone With the Wind by Margret Mitchell

The city was silently bloating in the hot sun, rotting like the thousands of bodies that lay where they had fallen in street battles. 
- A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling

The morning had dawned clear and cold, with a crispness that hinted at the end of summer. 
- A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) by George RR Martin

Aren't they wonderful? Just by reading these lines you can tell something amazing is going to happen next. In those lines alone you can tell the style of the book, you have an idea of who the characters are, and sometimes you can see the setting the story is in. First lines are magical.

What are some of your favorite first lines? (You may include movies as well as books.)



  1. That first line from "A Voice in the Wind" is definitely one of my favorites. It puts such a vivid picture in your mind.

    1. Right? It's one of those perfect examples of how the first line sets the stage for the rest of the book. It's dark, but the perfect opening for that story.

  2. Dear Mr. Inman, I began by counting the days, then the months.

    It's from the movie version of Cold Mountain, but I still love it!

  3. I loooove this post!!! :) I would have to say that Tale of Two Cites and Pride & Prejudice come to mind when I think of awesome first lines. :)

    Camp NANOWRIMO sounds fun! I am looking forward to November this year...I am bound and determined to finish!!! :)

    1. Yes, those are amazing first lines! And Camp NaNoWriMo has been fun. But I miss the frenzy of November. It's nice to have a relaxing writing month, but November is great because there are so many more people doing it and the community is stronger. Glad I had this month to get some stuff done though. It was the push I needed.


Share with me your thoughts! They make me smile.