Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Happy New Year, everyone. Hope your holidays were wonderful. I got to see a lot of family, which filled me with the joy of the season.
Since we seem to be on a theme here, beginnings stuck in my head when I sat down to blog. Probably because I've started writing a new book, "beginnings" to me means the first line or first chapter. So I looked up some of my favorite books to see if their first lines drew me into the story. Of course everyone knows the first line of REBECCA by Daphne DuMaurier because it's quoted so often. Here's a sample from my shelf.
Father must protect me or I am dead. From HER ONE DESIRE by Kimberly Killion, Kensington Zebra.
It was a proposition that would tempt a saint. From MOON IN THE WATER by Elizabeth Grayson, Bantam Books.
"I ain't hirin' no baby killer to work in my store." From MAN WITH A PAST by Kay Stockham, Harlequin SuperRomance.
Each of these uses a different technique, but all drew me in. Whether it's a direct thought, narrative or dialogue, they effectively made me read on. These are on my keeper shelf because the stories are as wonderful as their first lines.
When I buy a book, I notice the front cover art, title and author's name. If I'm interested in one of those, I'll flip to the back or cover flap to read the blurb. Seldom do I read the first line to determine whether to buy a book. But when I'm reading, the impression that first line makes sticks with me. Did it grab me? Draw me on? Make me eager to find out the answer?
What about you? Do you have any favorite first lines? Or don't you think they're relevant?

Megan Kelly


KimberlyKillion said...

Good morning, Megan!
I, too, am a fan of first lines. Since I know a few people (including myself) who are obsessed with Edward Cullen, I'll share a couple firsts with you. How about the first line in the movie TWILIGHT...

"I had never given much thought to how i would die. but dying in the place of someone i love seems like a pretty good way to go."

Now that is a great line!
So here's a question...
Do you think a writer need to open every chapter with equally great lines? And in the same token, do you think every chapter should end on a hook?

Here is the first line of the first chaper in the Twilight book:

"My mother drove me to the airport with the windows rolled down."

Had Twilight not been the huge phenomena that is was, I doubt many people would have bought the book based on that line.

Be safe and well in 2009!

Sara said...

First lines have to hook me! I have to want to go on with the book from that first line!!!! They are most important!

Megan Kelly said...

Sara, I agree, and that's why writers suffer over them like we do. :) We're obsessed with getting it right, setting the tone, hooking our readers. Such pressure. ;)

Megan Kelly said...

Kim, thanks for dropping by. The first line of the TWILIGHT prologue is "dazzling." I'm an Edward Cullen fan also, if you didn't know. I think every chapter should start with a great sentence, and every chapter should end with a hook or cliffhanger that keeps readers turning the page. Otherwise, they'd put the book down, and maybe not pick it up again.

Anonymous said...

Until I started writing I never paid attention to first lines. I used to read the back blurb. But one of my recent fave first lines is from a Harlequin SuperRomance "Her Favorite Husband" by Caron Todd -
"As soon as she saw him, she wanted to feel him inside her."

Megan Kelly said...

WOW, Marcie, that would certainly make me want to read more. I may have to find that book!