Monday, November 17, 2008

You Can't Eat Just One

You Can’t Eat Just One

Missy here. You can’t eat just one not only applies to potato chips, but also to books. Of course, we don’t eat books. But we certainly devour them!

So, you can’t read just one ( chapter) applies. I’ve seen a marketing tool where readers can join a Yahoo group and have the first chapter of books emailed to them each week. What a great way to hook them, to make them run straight out to the bookstore or to click right over to Barnes & Noble or e-Harlequin. Also, excerpts on websites serve the same function. Draw the reader in, hook them into your story so they’ll want to buy the whole thing. (This is the point I admit I just checked and realized I don’t have an excerpt on my own website, and thought I did!) I’ve even seen unpublished authors do this on their own websites, posting the first chapter of their manuscripts.

But stop! Before you run out and post your manuscript opening, you have to make sure you have the perfect hook. Just a few suggestions I’ve heard from editors and authors are:

--Open with dialogue or action, not a bunch of reflection.
--Open with a question.
--Open right at a point of change for the hero/heroine.
--Even though we’ve always heard about the Hero’s Journey, and opening with the character is her ordinary world, remember that it doesn’t mean you need a chapter or even a whole page of the ordinary world. Perhaps you only need one line.
--Don’t open with the hero/heroine driving somewhere. This is one I’ve heard and remembered because in the first book I ever submitted, guess what…. She was driving home.
--Open with a promise to the reader. A promise of what the book is about and what the tone will be.

Janet mentioned the other day that I should post about openings because she likes the opening of my first Love Inspired, Her Unlikely Family. Notice, my ordinary world is only shown in a little snippet of action of my heroine (she’s working in the diner, bent over behind the counter).

Excerpt from Her Unlikely Family, Steeple Hill Love Inspired by Missy Tippens

If there was one thing Josie Miller knew, it was the smell of a rich man. And whoever had just walked into the diner smelled like Fort Knox.

She sniffed the aftershave-tinged air once again and, following her nose, popped up from behind the counter with the half-filled straw dispenser in hand. She spied the man leaning into a booth, wiping the seat with a napkin. When he sat, she got a glimpse of his face and nearly dropped the straw holder.

Black hair, black golf shirt and black mood—if the slant of his brows meant anything—said he might very well be trouble.

And next I go into dialogue between the two to show why he’s come to town (the catalyst for change for both of them).

And here’s another Seeker example. I love this one, because it had my heart pounding. It’s my worst nightmare! Which is a great hook. Scare your reader to death so she has to buy the book and make sure all ends well! :)

Excerpt from Nowhere to Hide, SH Love Inspired Suspense by Debby Giusti

“Not my baby!”

In a split second, Lydia Sloan saw everything unfold—the black Mercedes parked in the deserted school yard, the tinted window partially lowered, her six-year-old son’s hesitation before he stepped toward the stranger’s car.

Fear shoved her heart into her throat.

She swerved to the curb, clawed at the door of her SUV and leaped into the late-afternoon storm. The wind pulled at her hair and slapped against her face as the buzzer on the dashboard blared a warning she’d left the key in the ignition. All she cared about was the alarm going off in her head.

Someone was trying to kidnap her son.


Woo! I’m breathless just reading it again. So Debby opens with dialogue that’s going to instill immediate fear. And she goes right into action. She’s definitely opened with a point of crisis!

And here are a few short openings. I have to share the next one because it cracks me up! It’s so Julie-ish. :)

From A Passion Redeemed by Julie Lessman
Patrick O’Connor stirred from a deep sleep at the feather touch of his wife’s breath, warm against his neck.

“Patrick, I need you…”

Her words tingled through him and he slowly turned, gathering her into his arms with a sleepy smile. He ran his hand up the side of her body, all senses effectively roused.

“No, Patrick,” she whispered, shooing his hand from her waist, “I need you to go downstairs—now! There’s someone in the kitchen.”

From Act Two: A Novel in Perfect Pitch by Kimberly Stuart
I once had a therapist who blamed my dislike of children on the Korean War. I was never entirely sure how she made that connection. Something to do with my father’s inability to serve because of bunions.

From A Soldier’s Family by Cheryl Wyatt
This was not the smartest way to die.

From A Season for Grace by RITA winner Linda Goodnight
The worst was happening again. And there was nothing he could do about it.

From Sushi for One? By Camy Tang
Eat and leave. That’s all she had to do.
If Grandma didn’t kill her first for being late.

From Calico Canyon by Mary Connealy
The Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse rode in.
Late as usual.

From Courting Miss Adelaide by Janet Dean
Adelaide Crum stepped to the open door and peered into the judge’s chambers. Her heart hammered beneath her corset. Now that the moment she’d waited for had arrived, her courage faltered. She considered turning tail and scurrying home. But then she remembered the quiet, the emptiness of those rooms. She closed her eyes and sent up a simple prayer. I don’t ask often, Lord, but I’m asking today. Please, let them say yes.

So those are some examples that I’ve enjoyed. Grab the reader and don’t let go! Also note that they show the tone of the book. Kimberly’s, Mary’s, Camy’s—all show humor. Debby’s shows it’s a suspense. You set the tone for the book. One of my pet peeves is a first line used just for the shock factor but that has nothing to do with the story. I’ve judged them in contests before, and it makes me angry as a reader and a judge.

Can you share some of your favorite first lines? And tell us why you liked it so much. Also, if you have any opinions on it, let's talk about the pros and cons of posting excerpts before you're published.



  1. Wow, looks like I'm the first to comment...but I live in Europe, so those of you in the state's are still sleeping ;) Excellent post. I think that first chapter is very important...if your reader gets bored in those first few lines, you're in trouble. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Missy,
    You know how I love Virginia Kantra's books. She ALWAYS has great opening lines. Her Sillhouette Intimate Moments book, All A Man Can Do opens with this line:
    The only thing worse than dying on the job was living long enough to retire.

    I remember being in a workshop with her and she talked about how much time she spent on opening lines. It's something I have always spent a lot of time on also.

    THanks for this post. I can't wait to hear others favorite first lines.

  3. HOLY COW, Missy, what a GREAT post -- and one of my favorite subjects too! I absolutely ADORE first lines!!

    The examples you gave are wonderful, (particularly The Seeker ones, I might add -- what a talented bunch of ladies -- it gives me tingles of gratitude just to belong to such a group).

    When choosing a book, it's the cover and the title that first grabs my eye, but it's the first line/paragraph and the jacket blurb that seals the deal, so first-line hooks are critical, not only to editors and agents, but to readers.

    My all-time favorite, of course, is from Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind, which reeled me in as a love-starved little girl at the age of 12:

    Scarlett O'Hara wasn't beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.

    A contest judge once told me that a really good writer will say the most in the least amount of words (I think she meant in a sentence ... if she meant books, I'm in deep trouble!). One of my favorite lines that does this is from a Nora Robert's book:

    They were lace-curtain Irish, righteous as three popes.

    Finally, I love first lines that give almost a brief glimpse or mini-synopsis of what the story is going to be about -- especially like you did, Missy, in Her Unlikely Family, and really all The Seeker examples.

    It's so much fun (and so important) to get those first few lines right, and in fact for me, it's the first few lines in my head that pulls me into the rest of the story when I am writing it. These lines from my first novel, A Passion Most Pure did exactly that in motivating me to write the very first scene:

    Sisters are overrated, she decided. Not all of them, of course, only the beautiful ones who never let you forget it.

    Thanks again, Missy -- this was a fun post!


  4. Thanks for joining us from Europe, Arianna! I'm glad you stopped by.

    Yes, we definitely don't want to lose a reader in those first few lines. Especially if they're in the store and crack the book open to read the opening before buying. And if they've already bought it, they may just throw it against the wall! (I've heard of writer friends who've mentioned doing this with books they don't like!)

  5. Lindi, that's a great opening line! LOL

    Thanks for stopping by. What were you doing up so early??!!

  6. Julie,

    Thanks so much for sharing the GWTW opening! I don't remember that line. And I guess I should admit right now that I never finished the book. Please don't hate me! (Or worse, disrespect me.) :)At least I did watch the movie!

    And also, I love the Passion Most Pure line! It truly does tell you what the book is going to be about. You keep your promise to the reader! Excellent.

    You know, what you quoted about fitting the most in the least amount of words is so true. Even when using passages of description, you can pack it with information. Like showing how the POV character feels about the setting, and then maybe tying that in with backstory.


  7. I always enjoy a discussion of first lines. I just looked at some of my favorite novels and none of the first lines are all that exciting, but still interesting enough to make me want to keep reading.

    I love Julie's and Mary's first lines, but those were already mentioned. :-) Mary has posted her first line from The Husband Tree before, which I thought was really awesome and made me so excited to read the book. But I don't remember the exact words.

  8. All of these examples are extremely cool. Effective, too.

    I liked that first line of GWTW. I didn't finish the book, either, girlfriend :-) And the movie seemed to illustrate it so well.

    How many of your nifty first lines actually came from somewhere else in the story?

    Or as my editor used to say at the paper (red faced, shirt sleeves rolled up, tie askew, cigarette dangling from corner of mouth) "Yer lead's down here in the fifth graph. Rewite this." (Usually in a 7 or 8-paragraph story)

    How much or how often do you all write and rewrite your first line, graph or page?

    Coffee's on. Would you all like some doughhuts? I sure would IRL!

  9. Melanie, I looked at a couple of other books I loved but the opening lines didn't blow me away, so I didn't include them.

    I'd love to hear Mary's opening! Maybe she'll share later. :)


  10. Ann, I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one not to finish GWTW! I should probably pull it out again someday and read it. That was many, many years ago.

    The example from Her Unlikely Family came to me while I was plotting. I have it written in my first notebook. (And Lindi helped me polish it by suggesting the Ft. Knox thing.) But I often write my openings over and over. In the revisions for my second LI, my editor asked me to write a different opening from my hero's POV. So that was definitely a change!

    I just finished line edits on that book and have it in front of me. Here's the opening for His Forever Love (out June 09):

    Time flew backward at warp speed when the name Lindsay Jones popped up on Bill Wellington’s cell phone.

    Summer evenings studying in the front porch swing. Working together on projects.

    Holding hands around The Forever Tree.

    But then he hurtled back to the present as he realized there was only one reason she would call.


  11. YOu mean perfect pearls of prose don't just roll off the finger tips?

    This is sounding suspiciously like work ;-)

    Glad to year about the writes and rewrites.

  12. Ann, thanks for the reminder! I had forgotten my coffee pot beeped a half hour ago so I ran to get my cup! Luckily, I have a thermal pot.

    So now I'll make more sense. I'm getting my caffeine now. :)

    Ahhh. Nice strong Starbuck's coffee with caramel apple creamer.

  13. LOL, Ann! I'm finding more and more how it's actually work! Thankfully, it's work I enjoy. :)

    I keep consoling myself in the fact that I took 3 years to write that first book. Now I don't have that kind of time, so writing fast is a new challenge.

  14. Very interesting post, Missy, and thank you for the concrete examples. I love examples!

    For me, the best first lines I've ever read come from Dick Francis.(I have all his books.)

    From Twice Shy:

    I told the boys to stay quiet while I went to fetch my gun. It ususally worked. For the five minutes that it took me to get to the locker in the common room and to return to the classroom, thirty fourteen-year-old semi-repressed hooligans could be counted on to be held in a state of fragile good behavior, restrained only by the promise of a lesson they'd actually looked forward to. Physic in general they took to be unacceptably hard mental labor, but what happened when a gun spat out a bullet...that was interesting.

    From Proof: Agony is socially unacceptable. One is not supposed to weep. Particularly is one not supposed to weep when one is moderately presentable and thirty-two. When one's wife has been dead six months and everyone else has done grieving.

    And my all-time favorite first line ever, from To The Hilt:
    I don't think my stepfather much minded dying. That he almost took me with him wasn't really his fault.

    DF has written 43 novels to date, and there isn't a dud first line among them.

  15. Erica, those are great examples! Thanks for sharing.

    I've read Dick Francis (can't remember which book) and loved it! I should read more.

    I really do appreciate you all sharing examples. I know you're probably having to go find books and type them in. So thanks for sharing!

  16. Great examples, Missy and all. Reminded me of the fiction class I took at Mount Hermon back in 1999 under Lauraine Snelling. She really stressed the importance of coming up with a grabber of a first line.

    And I did finish GWTW and enjoyed it, although I didn't talk myself into reading it until after I met Julie!

  17. My favorite opening line of all time is from Alex Kava's novel 'A Necessary Evil':

    There's just no good way to pick up a human head.

    A close second is from Julie Garwood's 'Slow Burn':

    Katy McKenna's Wonderbra saved her life.

    The second one especially reflects danger and humor at the same time. Which is a perfect reflection of the book to come.

    I always work hard on opening lines. I love them. And they're incredibly important. Closing lines are almost as crucial. I rewrite both over and over, tweaking, changing where the book begins and ends.

    On a good day, when I'm very confident, I call this Wordsmithing.

    On a not so good day, when I'm beating up on myself, I call it frittering away my life.


  18. Hi Missy:

    I love it when you talk marketing.

    The strongest advertising is said to be ‘free samples’. If the product is good, nothing works better or faster than ‘free samples’. (I believe that 3M “Sticky Notes” was marketed almost entirely by free samples. Anyone who used them simply had to have more.) If the product is not good, however, free samples will kill it faster than any other method. People sample it, don’t like it, tell other people its no good, and then are very reluctant to retry it later (after you’ve fixed the problems.) You don’t get a second chance at a first impression. Readers have so many new romances to choose from each month that you won’t want to waste the unique selling opportunity inherent with a ‘Grand Opening’ –that is, a fresh new author. If you are a debut author, you have the most to lose by a marketing failure and the most to gain with success. Just be sure you are right and not premature with your free samples.

    In the ancient oral tradition, as in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, there was the “in medias res” theory, that is, to begin in the middle of things. (Western writers say, ‘Shoot the Sheriff on the first page.) The master oral storytellers were paid by their audiences and they needed to hook listeners as a matter of survival. Also there is nothing like a crowd to attract an even bigger crowd. I think it helps to think of yourself as a storyteller with a live audience in front of you rather than a computer monitor when you are writing. You are creating a ‘reading experience’ not a book.

    About hooks:
    Cheryl Wyatt’s book, “A Soldier’s Family” begins, in medias res with a PJ falling from a plane with his parachute malfunctioning. (This is almost cheating! How do you top this? Have a meteor about to hit the earth in twenty minutes?) I was ‘oh so’ hooked with “A Soldier’s Family”!

    The ‘hook’ is like the headline of any advertisement. Its job is to attract the attention of the prospect who would most likely buy the product (read the book). As important as the hook is, it is the first paragraph following the headline that ‘invests’ the reader into the world you have created. In advertising you have to immediately follow up on the promise of your headline or you will lose the reader.

    I am reading your “Her Unlikely Family” right now (page 77) and I am very impressed by how quickly you invested me in the personalities of the characters. I felt like I immediately knew the hero and heroine. They have personalities so different I could just see the sparks that are going to fly in the upcoming pages. Then you quickly introduced a third dynamic personality in the teenager who is herself a bundle of supercharged troublesome energy. Your characters’ personalities are wonderful. I can tell who a character is by just reading any of his or her dialogue. It’s unusual to have personalities so well developed so quickly in a story. “Her Unlikely Family” is an excellent example of investing the reader in your story with maximum impact and with a minimum of words. In advertising the headline (hook) gets the reader’s attention but their next question is always, “So you got my attention, now tell me, why should I care and what’s in it for me?” Get the reader’s attention and then make her care by investing her in the character’s lives.

    BTW, I just loved, Julie Lessman’s, “Sisters are overrated…” opening line. After all the “Sisterhood” books, I just wanted to stand up and cheer: “You go girl!”).



  19. I usually only get to read this blog later in the evening but today I'm sneaking a peek while at work. : )
    I enjoy all the helpful craft info posted here. I'm working on my first manuscript by participating in NaNoWriMo. It's a mess but fixable...I hope.
    Thanks Missy for the info about not opening with the H/H driving. Looks like she's going to have to park the car! : D

  20. Myra! I'm glad you stopped by! As I wrote my post really late last night, I was wishing I could get the opening of your recent sales! (For those who don't know, Myra recently sold to Abingdon Press and to Barbour! One Imperfect Christmas will be out in Sept. 2009and Autumn Rains in Oct. 09!!)

    Myra, could you share one or both of your opening lines?? Pretty please! :)

  21. Oh, Mary, those openings are excellent!!!!! Nice visuals. :)

    And let's just pretend it's always wordsmithing. LOL

  22. Vince, thanks so much for your great comments! And thank you for mentioning my characters. I loved them and could just see them in my head the whole time.

    Very interesting about master storytellers having to draw a crowd to earn their living. I think I'll print a photo of a group of listeners to tape to my monitor while I'm writing! :)

    As for marketing, I so agree about the sampling. That's a good way to describe putting excerpts on our websites. At a Harlequin workshop I went to at RWA National, they stressed the importance and how they've found it really works. So I started printing a "sample", the first few pages of my book in booklet form, and putting it in a little bag with a Dove chocolate and a postcard/bookmark to hand out to booksellers and librarians. I'm hoping I'll get them hooked!

    It's also why I was so thrilled when I saw my back cover copy. Whoever wrote it did an excellent job! Better than I could have.

    I always read the back cover. Actually, the front cover catches my eye first thing. It's all so important!

  23. Sherry,

    Thanks for the laugh! I should have parked my car as well. And you know, I entered the manuscript in a workshop where a published author critiqued it. Carmen Green told me to start that story later, and she even told me the perfect point to start it. Did I listen and make that change? No. I did take a bunch of her wonderful suggestions, but I just couldn't let that opening go. And the story got rejected. Of course, probably not for that scene, because it's easily fixable. The rejection letter said I had cardboard characters.

    Hmm. Maybe it's time to pull that old manuscript out and look at it again...

    Good luck with the Nanowrimo writing! You're so right in saying that it important to get it on paper, because it's fixable. Hope you meet your goal!

  24. I read GWTW six times between the time I was 13 and before I turned 17. So I think that makes Julie and me kindred spirits. :-)

  25. Hi again, Missy. Okay, here goes:

    From One Imperfect Christmas:

    Natalie Pearce padded into the kitchen in her new velour robe and fuzzy orange-and-white slippers that looked like little foxes. They were a Christmas present from her husband, Daniel, just three weeks ago. The gift tag had read, To one foxy lady!

    And from Autumn Rains:

    The Greyhound bus lurched to a stop in a swirling cloud of diesel fumes. Healy Ferguson heaved his long legs into the aisle and slung his ragged duffel bag over his shoulder. When he stepped off the bus, the heat slammed into him with the force of a 250-pound linebacker.

    “Welcome to St. Louis,” he muttered. Still, he hadn’t seen so much sunshine in the past sixteen years, and it felt good. Real good.

  26. Melanie, you put me to shame!!

    Yes, you and Julie are definitely kindred spirits. :)

  27. Myra, thanks so much!! I love the lines!!

    I can't wait to get hold of the books!!

  28. Missy,
    FABULOUS post on hooks! Thank you for using our books as examples. Like Mary, I spend a LOT of time on my opening hooks. I'm glad someone noticed. LOL!

    Vince, thanks again for your kind words. Glad you enjoyed ASF and that you are engaging with the other Seeker's books as well. Too cool! Your readership means a lot.

    Thanks everyone else too with dropping by with thoughts. I love hearing what folks' favorite lines are.

  29. Great post, Missy! I love your opening line and those of all the Seekers. I spent a long time typing in favorite openers, evidently too long as my post disappeared. This time I'll re-try a few.

    Julie Garwood's For the Roses:

    They found her in the trash. Luck was on the boys' side; the rats hadn't gotten to her yet.

    Rene Gutteridge's Boo:

    Miss Missy Peeple shuffled down the gravel hill as fast as her callous, fungus-ridden feet would let her go. She could feel her ankles swelling. She hadn't moved this fast in years. But she had news that would shake up her little town of Skary like they'd never been shaken before.

    Sharon Sala/Dinah McCall's Jackson Rules:

    The urge to run was overwhelming. But Andrew Jackson Rule had not survived the past fifteen years in a maximum security prison by running, and so he walked through the last set of locked gates leading to the outside world as if he didn't care that this was the first breath of free air he would be taking since his sixteenth birthday.

    What strikes me about the openers we're citing is that they're mostly telling. Though they give me an emotional reaction. Telling hook us. Showing keeps us reading.


  30. I actually love it when someone challenges me to post a first line. Because, if I read it and hesitate, then that tells me something about the line, right?

    So, here's the first line of Gingham Mountain. Coming in February.

    Martha had an iron rod where most people had a backbone.

    Grant smiled as he pulled his team to a stop in front of the train station in Sour Springs, Texas.

    She also had a heart of gold—even if the old bat wouldn’t admit it. She was going to be thrilled to see him and scold him the whole time.

  31. You listed a lot of them, including your own. I totally love the opening line to Her Unlikely Family.
    Great post. I enjoyed reading those openings.

  32. This is for Montana Rose, out next July.

    I'm not totally satisfied with it yet.


    Cassie wanted to scream, “Put down that shovel.”
    As if yelling at the red-headed gravedigger would bring Griff back to life.

  33. Hey, Cheryl. Glad you stopped by! Keep cranking out those great first lines! :)

  34. Janet! I feel your pain. I've had my posts disappear so many times. I've started copying before I post on really longs posts now. That way I paste in a new message if needed.

    I love your examples!!! And interesting to note the telling. I tried to open a scene in dialogue recently. But then I had to anchor the reader right after that, so it almost made the beginning awkward. I left it that way, though. I hope it works!

  35. I love that opening, Mary!! And I also love the idea of posting openings just to check myself to see if I'm proud enough of it to let others read it. Nice litmus test! :)


  36. Thanks, Jessica! I appreciate you stopping by!

    Mary, I really like the opening for Montana Rose, too. Man, how many books do you have coming out in 2009??

  37. Janet reminded me of one my favorite Julie Garwood books, The Gift. The opening line is:
    It was only a matter of time before the wedding guests killed one another.

    The book I'm working on now, which doesn't actually have a title yet, is:
    Truett Beverly aimed his Henry repeating rifle at the noose above his friend’s head. He only had one shot to sever the rope, but that wasn’t what bothered him. How to get away from the half dozen men, all armed and standing near their able-bodied horses after he fired the shot—that was the problem.

  38. Ohhhh, great post. And reading everyone's input...all so very helpful! I learn so much from this website.


  39. Melanie, great hook in your story! I love it! Excellent setup. We'll have to keep reading to see if he makes it. :)

    Lynn, thanks for stopping by. It's great to see you here!


  40. You've had a lot of great first lines here. I just wanted to add mine from Franz Kafka -- The Metamorphosis.

    "One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug."


  41. Oooh, great post!

    One of mine has, I hope, what is a reasonably enticing hook.

    The other one... well, let's just say, that's not the only problem I'm having with my opening chapter...


    Thanks for the advice and the examples!

  42. Great beginnings, Missy! The back blurb is okay, but it's the opening line of books that sell me. You gave some great examples.

    I'm with you on making the opening consistent with the rest of manuscript! I get so ticked off at folks who have a killer opening line then find out the voice stops there. Not fair to peddle false wares!

    Hmm, gotta revisit some of my own first lines. . .

    Thanks, Missy!

  43. I've got four.

    Or was that a rhetorical question.

    Gingham Mountain February
    Cozy in Nebraska June (three cozy mysteries in one book)
    Montana Rose July
    Christmas Cowboy in November.


  44. Vince, that's definitely one that opens at a crisis point! :) Thanks for sharing.

    Avily, thanks for stopping by! Good luck working on that one that's bugging you.

    LOL! No pun intended! (You know, from the line Vince shared??) :)

  45. Audra, you'll have to share one of your contest winning opening lines with us!

    Mary, the question was NOT rhetorical! I truly wanted to know. Wow. What an exciting year!!

  46. Didn't know you wanted amateur work, LOL. You've showcased some really great lines.

    “Ninety-two and a half for Buster McKnight. Give the cowboy from Oklahoma a hand!” Applause roared as the cowboy scrambled to his feet, ripped off his hat and flung it into the center of the arena. -Rough Ride

    What good was a black book if it couldn't get you a date? -Diamond In The Rough

    "Oh Lord, save us."
    Diana Woodmore ignored her friend's moan as she white-knuckled the steering wheel in hopes of keeping the jeep four tires on the ground. Rough and Ready

    Thanks for asking, Missy : )

  47. Lots of nice action, Audra! But I especially liked Diamond in the Rough. :)

    Thanks for sharing!!


  48. Hey, good post, Missy. I love your examples. And I'm holding my breath until I can read your book.

    My first CP was a English major. She kept telling me I shouldn't start with dialogue or a question. This is old school. I know - I had the same problem 35 yrs ago in school!

    Everyone has such wonderful first lines. I'm a bit intimidated to give mine, but I so want to contribute.

    This is from a suspense wip I'm writing for NaNo:

    “We have a 187 at the Lucky Balls Sports Bar on Coleman St. I’ll meet you there.”

  49. Anita Mae,

    Sounds like you're opening right in the middle of a crime. Or whatever a 187 is. :)

    Nice work! I'm curious.


  50. You gals are so prolific! :D Okay, here's mine (albeit still in the drafting stages):

    Dog breath woke Claire better than any alarm clock.

  51. Great one, Ane!! I bet your 200-pound dog inspired that one. LOL!!


  52. Any feedback on this possible start for a cozy?

    Making a fashion mistake is fatal.

    Dressing wrong may kill a career and can put a romance on ice, according to my mother anyway.

  53. Cathy, I like it! I got a feel that it'll be humorous. So if that's not the case, you may want to look at it again. Of course, it could just be my warped sense of humor. :)


  54. Missy, I forgive you for not finishing Gone With the Wind ... but I may not forget it ... :)

    Melanie, six times???? Between 13 and 17???? I knew I liked you. Kindred spirits for sure ... except why do I have to be the older one????

    Vince -- thank you, sweetie! Hope you like the rest of the book as much as the first line! :)

    AUDRA!! All your first lines were great, but this one had me laughing out loud: What good was a black book if it couldn't get you a date? -Diamond In The Rough. GREAT first line, sweetie-pie!!!

  55. Missy, it is humorous.

    I'm so pleased you could tell :)



  56. I'm glad, Cathy! Good luck with it!

    Okay, I'm calling it a night. Well, I do still have some more school work to do. But I need to get off the computer. I'll check back tomorrow to see if we had an West Coast visitors!

  57. Hi Missy,
    Yes, you have a west coast visiter.
    I love this post on first lines. Here is the first paragraph of my work in progress:

    Paisley survived a venomous snake bite, escaped from a tribe of cannibals, and forged across crocodile infested waters, but all the dangers in her life seemed like a stroll in Hyde Park compared to the hazards lurking inside this ballroom of a London mansion. With a wary glance around her elaborate surroundings, she took a deep breath in an attempt to still the nervous little dance occurring somewhere in the vicinity of her chest and stomach. She adjusted her gloves and stepped through the doorway into a scary sea of aristocrats looking down their critical noses at her. She could almost hear their thoughts. Who is she? How did she get invited? I wonder what mistakes she’ll make. At this moment, snakes, cannibals, and crocodiles seemed a lot less threatening.

  58. Thanks for sharing, Janelle! LOL! I love your character's take on things. She sounds quite spunky. :)

    Thanks for stopping by!