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Some people don't agree with the 'open hard and fast' rule, but I think it's a great way to get into a story, especially when the reader hasn't met the book's characters before (or heard of the author).  That said, I don't think that means every opening must include murder, mayhem and/or explosions. 

To me, 'hard and fast' means grabbing the reader by the brain within the first few paragraphs.   By sparking our curiosity from the very start, a good writer pulls us into the story before we know what's happening. Here are some great examples: 

a)     “Where’s Papa going with that ax?”  Charlotte’s Web, E.B.White

b)      “How much of this blood is his?”  Chainfire, Terry Goodkind

c)  The last thing I wanted to do on my Summer vacation was blow up another school. 
                                                                                    The Battle of the Labyrinth, Rick Riordan

d)      Bailey Wingate woke up crying, again.  Up Close and Dangerous, Linda Howard

Sure, the rest of the novel has to live up to expectations, but you only get one chance to make a first impression, so we ought to make it count.  Not all books hit the page running, but I'd say they got published despite their slow start, rather than because of it.  Of course, that's just my opinion, others may disagree.


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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 18th, 2009 03:39 pm (UTC)
First lines
Jon - Glad to see you picked up these first lines, I saw them recently in one of my write magazines and was FORCED to reflect on just how 'grabbing' they are! Esp the "Where's Papa going with that ax?", considering it's from one of the best kids' books around.

Another comment I picked up (and tore out, to remember, since I am trying to organize around here - no easy task - and I am trying to read and render rubbished all the incoming paperwork) from a magazine was a hint to 'write cinematically' (why does spell check take offense at that?) and quotes Eddy Peters: "Not only does the English Language borrow words from other languages, it sometimes chases them down dark alleys, hits them over the head and goes through their pockets".
- Kate Parks
Mar. 18th, 2009 03:49 pm (UTC)
Re: First lines
Hi Kate :)

I took the first lines from a longer article I wrote for 'The Monmouth Muse' back in November.

I like the Eddy Peters comment, very Douglas Adams.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there



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