Saturday, September 25, 2010
There you are sitting at your desk in front of your computer, staring at the blank, stark white screen before you. Finally you lift your fingers to the keyboard and type in your name, address, and email address in the upper left hand corner, single spaced. You come down the page, type the title and your name. Then you move to the next page and type CHAPTER ONE.
Again there is a long pause as you contemplate the first line to your story. You see your heroine in your mind. What is she doing? Where is she?
You type a sentence, erase it, and begin again. You know it has to draw the reader in, make them want to keep reading. This first line is crucial. It has to motivate the reader to read on.
Most people will tell you when they are in the bookstore and they are searching for something great to read, they first look at the cover, then the back cover blurb, then they read the first line. Covers by their beauty can capture the readers imagination, and the back cover blurb give them a little taste of what the book is about. But that first line or two will be what cinches a sale. If it is dull, if it doesn't give the reader a strong visual image, they will like put it back on the shelf.
So how does a writer come up with a great first line? Here are some tips.
1. As you begin, close your eyes and visualize your character, where they are, and what they are doing. Write what you see in your mind's eye.
2. Use strong verbs to bring out the action.
3. Do not write a rambling sentence that goes on and on.
4. Go back later and read your first line, and ask yourself would you buy this book.
If you want your reader to be emotionally involved in your character, the opening lines are the key because it is the introduction between your heroine and your reader.
Here are a few first lines from the Daughters of the Potomac Series I am writing for Abingdon Press. Which make you want to keep reading and why? Which do not?
From 'Beyond the Scarlet Dawn', Book 1.
Eliza Bloome woke from the tattered high-backed chair when the front door downstairs slammed shut.
From 'Beside Two Rivers', Book 2
It had been her favorite place to retreat since she was nine, when she had discovered it one summer twilight while trekking with her cousins over the ridge that shadowed the Potomac.
From 'Beyond the Valley', Book 2
Sarah Carr would never look at the moon in the same way again.
Do you have a first line you'd like to share? Post it in the comments. Comment to some of the others poster's lines. Let us know, if you'd buy this book.
Posted by Rita Gerlach at 9:11 AM