Set the tone for your novel from the first line. Some say you have less than ten seconds to hook your reader or else he/she will move on to something else. Think of a reader picking up your book from a bookstore shelf or downloading a sample from Amazon. Will they put it back down or want to read on?
Those first few lines can be critical. For some examples of what you definitely don’t want to do, go to the site for the Bulwer-lytton annual contest, “It was a dark and stormy night.”
A winner from a past year, Sue Fondrie, wrote: Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.
Another one: He snapped my bra like a Concord taking off, and I was unhooked for love.
Can you come up with some losers? Write them in the comments section below.
If you’re still not sure what’s wrong with the one’s above, compare them with some good first lines from some actual books. They set a mood, suggest genre, character, setting; creep into your soul.
It was twilight when he made his move, the moment day folded into dusk, the space between light and shadow. Knight Awakened, Coreene Callahan.
“I have often recalled the morning when the first of the anonymous letters came.” Agatha Christie, The Moving Finger
The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. – William Gibson, Neuromancer
It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not. – Paul Auster, City of Glass
Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person. – Anne Tyler, Back When We Were Grownups
The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting.- Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage
You better not never tell nobody but God. Alice Walker, The Color Purple