Sunday, 6 July 2014

O is for Opening Lines

When I write the opening lines of a novel, I visualise a customer reading the first sentences. No matter how attractive the front book cover is, or how intriguing the blurb on the back cover is, if the first lines don't grip the reader, the sale will be lost.

When I submit a novel or short story, I send it with a prayer, hoping the agent or publisher will be hooked by the first lines and be reeled in by the following ones.

My historical novel Far Beyond Rubies begins:-
 
' “Bastards, Juliana! You and your sister are bastards.”

'Aghast, Juliana stared at William, her older half-brother, although, not for a moment did she believe his shocking allegation.' 

William's accusation and Juliana's reaction are intended to grip the reader and make them want to read on.

The first sentence of Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind is:-

"Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realised it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton Twins were."

In his book, Writing the Blockbuster Novel, Albert Zuckerman comments. "This sixteen-year old girl is presented as someone out of the ordinary."

The first lines are crucial and the author needs to give them very careful consideration.

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