I’m taking an editing workshop right now with the fabulous Candace Havens, and one of the topics is first lines. Does the first line of a novel draw you in? Do you read it and laugh out loud, cringe in horror, or wince in pain? Or when you read that first line, do you already start to nod off to dream land?
Some of the elements of a killer first line include voice, setting, hint of a conflict, or an emotional reaction. I know when I start a new book I like a strong voice in the opening sentence. I want to connect with the main character as quickly as possible. Long, descriptive sentences showing the setting, or random dialogue usually lose me a bit. Openings like that don't mean I won't read on, they just don't have much impact on me.
Miss Snark’s First Victim recently had a critique session on first lines that was great. Entrants submitted just the first sentence of their MS and critiquers gave a simple yes or no response.
Now, not every novel has a killer first line. In fact, when I pulled out some of my absolute favorite books, the first sentence was kind of a bore. So if you don’t have that totally awesome, fantastic, unbelievable first sentence, don’t fret. However, having that element gives you a better shot of grabbing an agent's attention.
I thought I’d share the first sentence of a bunch of books I have on my Kindle. I randomly picked out a few I’ve already read and some from my TBR list. A couple of these cracked me up and some definitely intrigued me enough to want more. What about you?
When had thigh-highs become required jewel heist garb? – LUCK OF THE DRAGON by Susannah Scott
It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three since scientists perfected a cure. – Delirium by Lauren Oliver
I’m in a slump, off my game, throwing up bricks, swinging and missing. – The Collector by Victoria Scott
Holy Mary, mother of God, the man was half-naked. – Suddenly Beautiful by Boone Brux
Lashing out, I jerked the power cord out of the wall, but it was too late. – Amethyst by Heather Bowhay
My blood itched for a fight. – Apollyon by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Shoving a strand of straggling blond hair aside, Sera balanced her books in her arms as she searched for her keys. – AWAKENED by Brenda K. Davies
So what do you think? Did you read a line above and want more? If you were an agent, would any of these examples stand out? What are some of your favorite lines? Share in the comments below. You can even share your first line and get some feedback.