Phil Keeling's picture
Phil Keeling from Savannah, Georgia is reading Virtual Ascendence October 3, 2011 - 6:38pm

Alright--here's my gauntlet.  Let's see your best opening lines.  Story, poem, novel--whatever.  Let's see the first few sentences that you think do the best job of grabbing the attention of the reader.  Something that demands for your work to be pulled out from under that publisher's slush pile.  Shock, skill, or sarcasm: whatever it takes.

 I'll start with the opening lines of my short story The Ballad of Brash Klebold:

The last night I saw Brash Klebold, he was stooped over my old copy of Gray's Anatomy, flipping desperately for a diagram on the penis.
"The least important thing about music," he said.  "Is the music."

Dave McCary's picture
Dave McCary from Santa Barbara, CA is reading A Dance of Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire series) October 3, 2011 - 6:41pm

What do you think of the following 3 openers?

 

The light started to peer in through my slowly parting lids, intruding, driving away the dark.

 

After weeks of incessant piddling rain, the sun was glowering down on us, glad to be unhithered by dank clouds.

 

There was a bitter chill to the air, not a natural cold as one would imagine, but an absence of any sort of warmth; the absence of any sort of life at all.

.'s picture
. October 3, 2011 - 6:43pm

Here is my magnum opus wrote on a roll of toilet paper. The greatest article of my short career.

“Jesus would have shot up too if he lived in this city.” This is what my cell mate with his bald head and Swastika tattoos tells me with his hand lodged in his ass. 

Phil Keeling's picture
Phil Keeling from Savannah, Georgia is reading Virtual Ascendence October 3, 2011 - 6:47pm

@Dave -- All three of these openings have something of a linking theme to them.  I definitely like the second one the best, though--it's as if the rain ("dank" and "piddling") is just as bad as the sun ("glowering").

@Jack -- THAT definitely got my attention.  I would actually like to see the original written on toilet paper.

Chorlie's picture
Chorlie from Philadelphia, PA is reading The Rules of the Tunnel October 3, 2011 - 6:52pm

It's hard to answer a question when you're vomiting.

Phil Keeling's picture
Phil Keeling from Savannah, Georgia is reading Virtual Ascendence October 3, 2011 - 6:55pm

@Chorlie -- Story of my life.

Chorlie's picture
Chorlie from Philadelphia, PA is reading The Rules of the Tunnel October 3, 2011 - 6:56pm

She called it her vagina, I called it her cunt.

.'s picture
. October 3, 2011 - 6:58pm

@Phil-- lol actually part of the narrative but maybe one day i'll write a book on toilet paper.

Dave McCary's picture
Dave McCary from Santa Barbara, CA is reading A Dance of Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire series) October 3, 2011 - 7:01pm

@Phil - Thanks. I appreciate that. That second one comes from an unfinished short story caller Running.

The first comes from the Novel, Do Over, that I am currently working on. It's about halfway finished.

The third one comes from a short story called Dreamer that I later adapted to a short screenplay.

 

I see what you mean about what seems to be a linking theme. I suppose, without realizing it, I have adopted a consistent style of opening my stories.

Phil Keeling's picture
Phil Keeling from Savannah, Georgia is reading Virtual Ascendence October 3, 2011 - 7:11pm

@Chorlie -- "...But we both agreed it needed a shave."

 

I like it.

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts October 3, 2011 - 7:20pm

Another line from that disaster thing I've been typing out like a snail recently. Will probably cut it though. I should probably be writing this instead of posting bollocks here.

 

The car was caught overturned in the thick tendrils of a telegraph post, swaying lazily like a marionette long after the matinee.

Phil Keeling's picture
Phil Keeling from Savannah, Georgia is reading Virtual Ascendence October 3, 2011 - 7:23pm

@Renfield -- I dig that snippet.  Nice and eerie.

Chorlie's picture
Chorlie from Philadelphia, PA is reading The Rules of the Tunnel October 3, 2011 - 7:25pm

Renfield, nice.

Nav Persona's picture
Nav Persona from Purgatory is reading The Babayaga October 3, 2011 - 7:44pm

@jacks_username I have a journal that's made of paper made from poo -- might work for the TP theme?

"Peace of Poo"

I bought one at Ron Jon's :)

Okay, here's a first line:

When a child cries, a mother's heart breaks, but when the earth cries out, entire cities crumble.

 

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore October 3, 2011 - 8:35pm

"No matter where you live in New York City, you always end up in Queens."

~ from one of my unpublished short stories. True because that's where all the cemeteries are. It's something I once heard a pilot say as we were descending into LaGuardia.

 

"My earliest memory is shitting the bathtub."

~ from my first novel Major Inversons

 

"Bodies languish on racks, carved from the slab that once breathed life into this world."

~ from my upcoming novel, Flashover  (referring to a guitar repair shop)

EricMBacon's picture
EricMBacon from Vermont is reading The Autobiography of a Corpse October 4, 2011 - 8:23am

I'll give you two of mine. I have a hard time sharing my work because I am a harsh critic of my work, but here is a preview:

"Sometimes lonely people collide with the same velocity and violence that made this great earth."

"Such pure things in life offer the dishonest illusion of being endless."

When I get random moments of inspiration I have a small window of scribbling down anywhere from a few words to a few lines of what I consider to be valueable ideas. And then the fog rolls back in and no glimmer of light can save me.

Vinny Mannering's picture
Vinny Mannering from Boston, MA. USA is reading On Fiction Writing October 5, 2011 - 12:40pm

I had to write an autobiography for a college course, the opening line was:

My first girlfriend grew up to be a psychiatrist, which makes sense.

 

aliensoul77's picture
aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. October 4, 2011 - 11:52am

The only sincere thing about him was the sounds he made when he was getting a blowjob.

 

The stranger and I kept playing a game of will.  His eyes would dart over to me, looking me over then I would look at him and his eyes would dart away.  Finally I just said, "So do you want to fuck me or what?"

Phil Keeling's picture
Phil Keeling from Savannah, Georgia is reading Virtual Ascendence October 4, 2011 - 1:25pm

This all looks terrific.  Extra points to Vinny for saying so much in so few words. 

Vinny Mannering's picture
Vinny Mannering from Boston, MA. USA is reading On Fiction Writing October 5, 2011 - 12:41pm

@Phil - Thanks. It was so few words because I omitted "be" when I posted it. Oops.

Greg Eidson's picture
Greg Eidson from Los Angeles, CA is reading The Alchemist - Paul Coelho October 5, 2011 - 2:44pm

 

                               

Liana's picture
Liana from Romania and Texas is reading Naked Lunch October 5, 2011 - 3:08pm

It's hard to get into a thread and respond to all that's been posted, right? So I'll pick a few that I have a suggestion for:
 

@ Phil: I usually don't like to see someone's full name in the very first line, unless there's a good reason for that (such as the name has something very unusual in it). But maybe that's just me.

@ Dave: I agree that you have to get away from repetition, if you find yourself starting every story with an image of darkness. This particular part "absence of any sort of life at all." is too wordy for having a big impact. Wouldn't absence of life say what you mean, without "any sort of" or "at all"? If life is absent, it sounds more final than trying to reinforce it.

@Sapple: it seems your metaphor is a bit in reverse than what sounds natural: shouldn't it be "when cities crumble, the earth's heart breaks"? It's just that earth seems to be in the position of mother in relation to cities. Hard to picture cities being so big that I accept them in the mother position toward the earth? Does that make sense?

@Renfeld: that was the line that grabbed me the most, in this thread.

Now that I've managed to sound like a jerk, can I ask what y'all think is wrong or right with these opening lines in a story:

"Bird noises pierced his inner ear like shards of glass. He plunged, and the forest was a dance of ghosts that flickered in front of his eyes." 

 

 

 

Alex Kane's picture
Alex Kane from west-central Illinois is reading Dark Orbit October 5, 2011 - 6:24pm

Here are the opening lines from my most recent work/publications:

From my short story "In the Arms of Lachiga," forthcoming in this month's Digital Science Fiction Anthology 4:

Two figures emerged from the shadows, and I knew the night was far from over.

From my current WIP, titled "Both Eyes in the Grave":

Oran Hajostek rounded the corner at the end of the alley and made a sharp turn into the less narrow, but crowded marketplace, shaking his pale, weary arms to signal for pedestrians to move the hell out of the way.

From my favorite short story of mine, "Prospect of a World I Dream," which is up for critique right now in the LitReactor workshop:

The doorway to the bridge irised open, and I pulled myself inside using the cold handrails on either side of me. In the ice-blue dimness of the spacious room my peers were already present, seated in two semicircular rows around the projection lens. All nineteen of them strapped in, to keep from floating freely in the near-weightlessness of the ship's stationary axis.

From my short story "An Apocalypse of Her Own, One Day":

Across the horizon, Armageddon torched its way through the atmosphere. Each of the myriad antimatter bombs birthed a cloud of lightning and hellfire, then at once swallowed up a portion of the earth, as the barrage began to fall on civilization.

From my short story "Moonbound":

About twelve years ago, a friend of mine gets it into his head that a Ferris wheel will catapult him to the moon. Remove a couple bolts, and whoosh! -- the centripetal force will toss you heavenward hard and fast enough to at least get you there. Which I suppose works if you spin the thing roughly a zillion times faster than it's built to go. The trip back, maybe not so easy, but... Kids sure do some crazy shit, don't they?

Nav Persona's picture
Nav Persona from Purgatory is reading The Babayaga October 5, 2011 - 6:52pm

@Liana - nice observation - and the story bears out the analogy fairly well, I think. The thoughts behind it follow 'what cries' and 'what breaks'. Once I get it polished up a bit more, I'll post some on the workshop and see if it holds up or if I'm just crying in the dirt, lol. I'm glad you pointed that out... it's got me thinking! :)

.'s picture
. October 5, 2011 - 10:14pm

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.

J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Mhammer's picture
Mhammer from Wisconsin is reading Spindle's End October 6, 2011 - 9:23am

These are the opening lines for a story I've had in my head for a while, but I can never find a plot for it aside from "um...there's...people in it?"

So, if anyone has any suggestions on what there could be for a plot, I would be much oblidged!

When it first rolled in, no one paid it any mind.  Those on the water thought it was normal and those inland thought it odd, but unimportant.

The Fog soon rolled out, but things had changed from before.  Those who had been out in it were now gone, missing, and could not be found.  The Fog had taken them with it.

When it occurred again, society ran indoors, trying to escape.  Scratching and howling outside made the people huddle together in fear.  This time, gouges from strange claw marks were everywhere once the Fog had disappeared.

Greg Eidson's picture
Greg Eidson from Los Angeles, CA is reading The Alchemist - Paul Coelho October 6, 2011 - 2:41pm

Right now, right this second. I'm thinking all about how I'm never gonna have sex again. How I better get a lot more comfortable jerking off. 

kimar2z's picture
kimar2z from The Middle of Nowhere, Texas is reading The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett October 6, 2011 - 5:54pm

Well, the first one of mine...

A man sat in the back of a smokey bar, the windows fogged from the cold outside the little pub.

Then, in another novel...

She could remember the day they met clearly in her mind. She could remember the way the wind tousled her hair just slightly, and the fact it bothered her. The fact she couldn't stand how her hair was so wavy, even as a five year old. The fact that the sand between her toes itched and the air was thick with the sent of salt. She could remember it all, every detail. (Opening paragraph, but I love it...)

 

D Michael Hardy's picture
D Michael Hardy from Tampa, FL October 8, 2011 - 10:05am

This is from a short I just started...

The moment the red and blue lights spun to life in the darkness behind her, Rachael knew it was all over.

Charles's picture
Charles from Portland is reading Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones October 8, 2011 - 10:16am

this is original first paragraph of the book i was working on when i joined the first cult workshop


She looks pale white, so much that she looks like a ghost. Blond hair, matted and sticking to the ground behind her head like a pillow in a dirty blond cover. Eyes fixed on something distant in the sky, unblinking even as rain spatters them

this next one is from a rewrite i started and then didnt work on for longer than a day.

It must have started before I got there; like walking into a movie midway into whatever the hell is playing. You try and sort this all out in your head, making your own reasons why the gun is pointed at someones heart, or why two people are throwing hay makers at each other. Why there is a naked woman laying on her back in an alley. All of this is pretty much the same.

Nick Wilczynski's picture
Nick Wilczynski from Greensboro, NC is reading A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin October 8, 2011 - 10:28am

From a Short Story called "The Best Friend" about a man and his dog:

 The sunsets are always beautiful nowadays.

I don’t know what sort of damage the world’s nuclear arsenal does to an atmosphere, I can’t remember any of the scientific terms, which is just fine with me because until I can name it, it’s just beautiful. I’m probably one of the last who can enjoy it, so here’s a toast to ignorance and bliss.

I have always liked my novel's opening line:

I wish I could tell you that the good guy always wins, but in my experience this is rarely the case. The problem is that in order to make such a claim I would also have to tell you that I know who the good guy is.

Another Short Story called "And Justice for All" more properly a piece of flash.

You can hear the rattle of the spray paint can as it rolls down the street, but nobody’s listening. There is no rising to the boy’s chest, nothing like breathing.

Liana's picture
Liana from Romania and Texas is reading Naked Lunch October 8, 2011 - 11:15am

NK I like 1 and 3 (especially the 3rd is really striking). Number 2 - second sentence is too formally written for my tastes ("the problem is"... "in order to..." "such a claim"...), especially if it's your opening to a novel.

Nick Wilczynski's picture
Nick Wilczynski from Greensboro, NC is reading A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin October 8, 2011 - 11:47am

Thanks.

I see your point about the second sentence there, which is funny. I spent so much time trying to get political rants for their own sake out of the book and I never really thought about the ways that just the wording implies a novel length policy paper. It is something I will now be looking into, and I appreciate your thoughts.

I think that the birds and nature opening line is quite a good sentence, but how does it segue into something more concrete? Of course this is hard to tell from just the one sentence, so I don't know if this is a valid criticism or if I'm just grasping at straws in an attempt to offer a reciprocal back scratching.

Nav Persona's picture
Nav Persona from Purgatory is reading The Babayaga October 8, 2011 - 11:53am

From a WIP, which is coming back from the editor soon:

 

Triumph is always bittersweet. No matter how well-fought the battle, no matter how great the prize, winning is no more than taking one more breath than your enemy, no less than giving up a part of you that you'll never get back.

 

(2 sentences, but hey, I'm almost old enough for AARP, I deserve a bonus, a discount, a free pass, eh?)

 

Liana's picture
Liana from Romania and Texas is reading Naked Lunch October 8, 2011 - 12:49pm

Yep nk... I thought maybe my 2 sentences were too little to get anything out of. Here's more:

Bird noises pierced his inner ear like shards of glass. He plunged, and the forest was a dance of ghosts that flickered in front of his eyes. In the one second that it took to reach the water, guilt exploded in his body and he wondered if the water would silence it. Another part of him knew it couldn’t. His body embraced its own gravity as it broke the murky surface. The water enveloped him like a uniform, but the coolness did not register. The sunlight disappeared. The ache did not. Water rushed into his nose and he tasted the swamp, thick on his tongue, in his throat. An image of marching soldiers floated before him. Forlorn soldiers in the frozen swamps of Europe, like beaten dogs. Not the ones in the news. Not the ones Martha knew about.

 

Trying to revise this story (I think I had it on the Cult at some point). Many people were bothered by the "bird noises" but I was trying to make them grating, somehow, not sweet bird chirps. I probably need a better word than noises though.

Anyone has any ideas I'd be happy if you tell me what sucks in this paragraph. Or maybe it's not fair to ask for feedback outside of workshop...

 

Liana's picture
Liana from Romania and Texas is reading Naked Lunch October 8, 2011 - 12:54pm

Lol if I am to ask for feedback I'll give a few more myself:
 

@Kimar - nice image, I feel like I want to know what that man is doing. But is it necessary to call the place in 2 ways in the same short sentence? (pub and bar). The next one, "the day they met clearly" - "clearly" is misplaced because it's right after "met" but doesn't refer to it. Sand between toes always nice... It should be scent not sent.

@Sapple I had to wrap my mind around that one, but it was rewarding to do that.

And I probably should stop haunting the forum and do my work.

Chorlie's picture
Chorlie from Philadelphia, PA is reading The Rules of the Tunnel October 8, 2011 - 9:47pm

He didn't flail his arms when he was falling, which we found odd, but the sixty-story leap was understandable.

Nick Wilczynski's picture
Nick Wilczynski from Greensboro, NC is reading A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin October 9, 2011 - 2:32pm

It sounds like a lame excuse, but that is just kind of how the narrator thinks. It's first person stream of conciousness and yes, it is just wierd, "who thinks this way", sort of stuff throughout. But it is explained in the story. The dialogue isn't a technical, but a lot of the time when he thinks it is pretty techical. I suppose it is a little strange for an opening line, but he just sits there and speculates on things in an attempt to characterize himself until everything blows up and he freaks out and bolts.

That is a much fuller image. I think it is much catchier in paragraph form.

@Sapple

I like it.

@Chorlie

maybe "but with a sixty-story leap that was understandable," or are you trying to say that the leap itself was understandable?

Chorlie's picture
Chorlie from Philadelphia, PA is reading The Rules of the Tunnel October 9, 2011 - 7:30pm

That the leap was justified.

Liana's picture
Liana from Romania and Texas is reading Naked Lunch October 9, 2011 - 8:37pm

That reminds me of a riddle - or whatever they call it, in which a person jumps from a similar height, something like 60 story window, but somewhere mid-fall he has a heart attack and dies. You're supposed to figure out why he had a heart attack as he was falling, and you're supposed to ask me questions so I can give you clues.

It would take a really long time in writing to tease out all the clues, so I'll give you the first main clue: it's a post-apocalyptic scenario.

Hey if no one wants to guess I'll tell you anyway.

Danny grant's picture
Danny grant October 9, 2011 - 9:21pm

@Vinnie, that was Brilliant, to say the least!!!!!!

 

Danny grant's picture
Danny grant October 9, 2011 - 9:26pm

"At some point between yesterday and tomorrow, I’m sleepwalking toward the ER when my wakeup call comes in the form of a bear hug from behind." 

Dr. Gonzo's picture
Dr. Gonzo from Manchester, UK is reading Blood Meridian October 10, 2011 - 4:08am

'If you don't run, they can't chase you,' my dad once said.

Chorlie's picture
Chorlie from Philadelphia, PA is reading The Rules of the Tunnel October 20, 2011 - 7:16pm

I never thought my first kiss would come from CPR, but I guess when you're drowning you're drowning.

misskokamon's picture
misskokamon from San Francisco is reading The Moonlit Mind October 20, 2011 - 8:15pm

This is a lot more than an opening line, but... oh well! Here's an opening paragraph!

 

From my current WIP:

Quincy’s eyes opened.
He expected darkness—darkness that was alive, darkness that stretched on forever. He expected billions of shadows—shadows that stifled the air with a cacophony of incomprehensible whispers.
He didn’t expect to see his bedroom.

Alex Kane's picture
Alex Kane from west-central Illinois is reading Dark Orbit October 20, 2011 - 9:18pm

Here's the opening from my latest story:

As soon as he heard the front door slam shut downstairs, Ezekiel Buckner rolled free of his bedclothes and thudded to the floor. He groaned in the unanswering dark, felt his way toward the door without making too much commotion. Zeke's daddy wouldn't have liked him wandering about like this, with his leg braces on for the night, the October moon casting its glow through the trees and in through the closed windows. His bedtime was past. Daddy would have told him to get his scrawny ass back into bed right this instant, but for now he had the house to himself. Zeke listened as the car accelerated on down the street, the purr of its engine growing distant until all he heard was the gentle clawing of the trees against the siding.

Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs October 23, 2011 - 11:55pm

Here are a bunch. I don’t know which ones are the best. I have lots of other good openings, but I’ve restricted these to one sentence since I’m already posting too many of them:

Listen carefully and no one gets hurt. – It Came from Below the Belt

The Golden Arches were covered in blood and the Egg McMuffins were being sold at fifty percent off for a limited time only. – “Cheesequake Smash-Up,” which was published in The Bizarro Starter Kit (Blue)

From my short story collection, My Heart Said No, But the Camera Crew Said Yes!:

Sock puppets have a limitless capacity for cruelty. – “Abusing My Interests”

My bowels are on fire and blood pours out from the former home of my favorite nose hair. – Gen Papa-Georgio

The region of Croatan is privileged to have its own degrees of latitude and longitude, is located between the North and South Poles, and is speculated to exist on planet Earth. – “Croatan (from The Encyclopedia Orangutannicas)”

“I'll rape your maggoty corpse!” – “Terror in the Haunted House”

The Sapsucker is known for its deplorable counting skills and its baffling influence over the scientific community. (piece is accompanied by an illustration featuring the creature with five toes)  – “The Two-Toed Sapsucker (from The Encyclopedia Orangutannicas)”

The figurehead wore Velcro sneakers and was deeply ashamed of never learning how to bend her knees. – “The Anals of Piracy”

On some nights, if you clean the hummus out of your ears, you can still hear the public's outcries for a motion picture that combines teenage sex comedies with highway safety films and ends in a climactic space battle between the hunky new kid and a reckless Ferrari Testarossa. – “Jared Bruckheiny”

As I sat in an all-night diner eating my toasted strudel, I daydreamed lurid visuals of biological females wielding large, ungainly penile implants. – “A Visitor's Guide to Lawn Guyland”

Stuff from my prose poetry and short story collection, Sorry I Ruined Your Orgy:

Captain Thumbtack looks for buried treasure up his nose. – “Liquid Gold” 

The detective is paid two hundred bucks a day plus expenses to locate a man’s lost TV remote. – “The Detective”

Adolf Hitler tells me that I look beautiful. – “The Lunch Date”

Mount Holyoke packs a thermos and trail mix for its hike up Bradley Sands. – “Defeat of the Mountain Spirit”

Novellas from my forthcoming “novel,” Please Do Not Shoot Me in the Face: A Novel:

Frankie the boy detective puts on his funny mustache disguise. – “Frankie Nougat and the Case of the Missing Heart”

Apocalypse Ninja’s farts are silent but deadly. – “Apocalypse Ninja”

Anarchy fucking rules. – TV Snorted My Brain, a novel forthcoming in 2012 (the first chapter appeared in Warmed and Bound)

And if you've managed to read this far, I'll post a couple of my favorite opening sentences that other authors wrote:

I still thieve and I still lie, and I admire myself and admonish myself pitilessly. – Billy Childish's Notebooks of a Naked Youth

The only advice I can offer, should you wake up vertiginously in a strange flat, with a thoroughly installed hangover, without any of your clothing, without any recollection of how you got there, with the police sledgehammering down the door to the accompaniment of excited dogs, while you are surrounded by bales of lavishly-produced magazines featuring children in adult acts, the only advice I can offer is to try to be good-humoured and polite. – Tibor Fischer's The Thought Gang

 

lynx_child's picture
lynx_child from Seattle is reading The Dresden Files series October 21, 2011 - 12:07am

I'm not very good at opening lines, but here's the opening from (the rough draft of) my sci-fi side project:

 

The bridge was quiet except for the low hum of cooling fans and the click-clack of dog nails on cold metal floor.

simon morris's picture
simon morris from Originally, Philadelphia, PA; presently Miami Beach, FL is reading This Body of Death, by Elizabeth George October 21, 2011 - 4:09am

There is a story behind my best opening line. Some years ago, I decided to use my experiences as a therapist to write a self-help book for abused women. They comprised a significant percentage of my clientele and their stories left me with a residue of their emotional traumas as well as with the knowledge of those who had broken out of the cycle of abuse and moved on to a healthy and rewarding life.

I wrote about them and through them, channeling their voices into my writing. The opening was a mess. I tried to begin with a recitation of who I was and why I was writing. I tried to open with an explanation of how there were ways out of abusive relationships. Several of the stories in the book were told in the POV of the women whose stories were being presented. I felt I was on to something of value.

I had a polished draft that had everything but a solid opening. It was the only part of the manuscript that was cold and stilted.

Inspiration comes at the most unexpected times or in the most unanticipated manner. I was not a writer but I knew enough to know that without something to pull the reader into the book, no editor would look at it. So, I approached finding an opening as a project and I was experienced at projects because, as a CEO of a non-profit social service agency, I had to sell them to a community who had the power of the purse.

What, I asked myself, was the core of this project? I'm known to talk to myself, and more remarkably, to answer when I do. The core, I responded, was that the voices of the women impelled me to write, if for no other reason than I had to exorcize them from within me.

So, lets see ...

The voices of the women with whom I worked compelled me to ... NAH! Too wordy.

I am writing this book because I hear ... NAH! This isn't about ME; this is about the women whose stories deserve to be told.

Sometimes I hear voices. YES. Sometimes I hear voices. The voices I hear ...

The book sold to the first editor to whom I sent it. It was published by HSI/Tab Books, Inc., a division of McGraw-Hill. My working title was "The Merry-Go-Round." By the time the marketing department got done with it, the title had morphed into, "Stop the Merry-Go-Round: Stories of Women Who Broke the Cycle of Abusive Relationships."

Twenty-two years after publication, you can still find used copies for sale on Amazon.com. I ended the work with a suggestion to readers that if they found the book of value, to pass it on to the next person who might need it.

Now, I plan to try to write fiction and I do not anticipate that I will find instant success but I will still put as much care into a hook as I did back then.

 

Bekanator's picture
Bekanator from Kamloops, British Columbia is reading Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter October 21, 2011 - 4:48am

For anyone interested, there's a book I've read all about opening sentences called Hooked by les Edgerton.  It's not a perfect guide; there are times when author tends to contradict himself as to what a great opening sentence actually is (one chapter he'll say never to open with dialogue, and the next he'll make an exception and say that diague is a great way to open a story), but he does provide som fantastic example openings, and he explains what makes them so great.

@lynx_child: I think that's pretty good.  It makes me want to read on to see whether this story is first person or third.  If it's first person, it intrigues me as to what the person is doing under the bridge.

I don't feel this is one of my best opening lines, but it is one that seems to pull in the most attention.  It's from my story, "A Fairytale Girl for Every Budding Boy":

“You can't fuck a mermaid,” Tobias said.

 

This one's from a "McDonald's blowjob" story I'm working on called "Palate Cleanser":

Browsing the evening's Casual Encounter listings felt less desperate when paired with my good bottle of Pinot Noir.  The headings read like subversive captions that advertised every attached picture of a hard dick:
seeking a really tight pussy ;) - m4w - 42
19 year old brown guy *VIRGIN* – m4w - 19
Hott and Horny – m4w - 28

There was a twenty-four year-old college student whose headline asked, Burgers and a blowjob?  I was drunk when I answered it, intrigued by his usage of proper grammar.

This one's from a story I started a couple years ago and never finished.  It's a take on street harassment, but reversed with a girl making the lewd comments at a dude:

“You're wearing those pants again,” the girl says, “I always thought they defined your package all nice.”
The other passengers on the bus, they look up at me before looking away.  The only empty row of seats is the one right behind the girl.  That's where I end up sitting.

iBronco's picture
iBronco from New Jersey is reading White Noise October 21, 2011 - 8:34am

'It was now lunch time and they were all sitting under the double green fly of the dining tent pretending that nothing had happened.'

A favorite of mine from Hemingway's The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber