Monday, September 11, 2017

The Enticement of First Lines


Readers do it all the time. They judge our books by the cover. If the verdict falls in our favor, they open the inside flap or flip to the back to meet our characters and their conflicts. Then, if we’re lucky, they turn to the first page, expectant, hopeful, daring our first line to be irresistible.

Our first line—the one sentence that can entice a reader to enter our story or to reach for a new cover to judge.

We know how vital our first line is. We've been told a bazillion times it must “grab the reader” and “draw the reader in.” But sometimes I’m not confident about my first line. I may think it’s compelling, but will readers? 

Evaluating my first line’s grab-factor, determining its draw-ability, feels abstract. The English teacher in me needs concrete—a set of criteria to weigh the writing against. So I did my homework, and thanks to my book blogger friends and their “First Line Friday” posts, I had an abundance of first lines to scrutinize. 

But first I changed identities. I didn’t want to analyze words like a writer. I needed to experience them like a reader and feel those magnetic moments pull me in. So I scrolled through first lines, and when a particular line made me linger, I tried to figure out why.

Here’s what reader me discovered for writer me. A first line that convinces readers to read on satisfies two criteria.

1. IT EVOKES QUESTIONS

Does my first line make the reader ask questions, lots of questions? What are those questions? Will they lure the reader into my story to pursue answers?

2. IT PROVOKES EMOTION

Does my first line make the reader feel emotion? Do I give the reader an instant connection that incites one or more feelings? What are the emotions she will feel?



Let’s test the criteria. This first line is from a YA Christian fantasy, Siren’s Fury by Mary Weber.


“There is a moment, just before every storm, when the entire world pauses.”

What questions does this line evoke? I wonder if the storm is literal or figurative. What is going to happen after the pause? What—or who—is going to be damaged by this storm? How big is this storm if the entire world is going to pause?

What emotion does this line provoke? I feel anxiety. I’m already worried about the narrator and characters, and I don’t even know who they are yet. 

Let’s try another one. The back cover of romance author Tammy L. Gray’s My Hope Next Door tells us the protagonist returns home after several years and must confront the bad reputation she left behind. Here’s the first line:

“The Fairfield water tower loomed over Katie’s regrets like a guard she had to sneak past.”

Questions, anyone? Katie’s regrets, what are they? How many does she have? What could be so bad to keep her away for so long? What’s important enough to make her return to face her past? What conflicts are waiting for her? (And how impressive is that simile?)

Emotion? Definitely shame. I feel the weight of it in my chest as I envision Katie passing through the shadow of the water tower, probably feeling small and alone. 

Here’s our final first line, from Roseanna M. White’s historical romance, The Reluctant Duchess.


“She could have been more than she was.”

Says who? Does she believe this about herself, or does someone believe this about her? What is she now and why does that fall short? What could she have been? What prevented her from becoming that?

I feel empathy. What wife, mother, woman hasn’t felt this first line at some point in her life? I want to be her cheerleader (whoever she is) and tell her, “You don’t need to be more. You are enough.” 

When our first lines evoke questions, we entice the reader to seek answers that can only be found by reading further. When we provoke emotion, we require the reader to invest in the story. 

Obviously, readers don’t pause after the first line to list all their questions or to identify their emotions. They don’t need to understand why they must read on. That’s our job. 

One first line. Two criteria. Let’s grab some readers and draw them in. 


Do you have a favorite first line? What qualities in a first line entice you? Share some memorable first lines from your Keeper Shelf in the comments.

 Leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of Waiting for Butterflies. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition of Seekerville.
Waiting for Butterflies is an achingly tender portrait of a
 mother whose love reaches beyond the possible.

When tragedy strikes, Maggie discovers a mother's love never ends--not even when her life does. Longing for her family after her sudden death, she becomes a lingering spirit and returns home where she helplessly witnesses her family's downward spiral in the aftermath of her passing. Her husband is haunted by past mistakes and struggles to redeem himself. Her teenage daughter silently drowns in her own guilt, secretly believing she caused her mother's death. Only her five-year-old, full of innocence, can sense her presence. Although limited by her family's grief and lack of faith, Maggie is determined to keep a sacred promise and save her family before her second chance runs out.



Karen Sargent creates characters whose imperfect faith collides with real-life conflicts, taking readers on a journey through grace and redemption to discover enduring hope. A romantic element is woven within each story. In addition to writing novels, she blogs at The MOM Journey, where moms aren’t perfect and that’s perfectly okay. When she’s not writing, she teaches high school and college English and resides in the beautiful Arcadia Valley with her husband and two daughters. Waiting for Butterflies is her debut novel. Visit her at KarenSargentBooks.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter.



139 comments :

  1. Welcome to Seekerville, Karen! Thanks so much for joining us! It's bagels and schmear on the menu for your visit.

    I'll be back in the am to cheer you on!

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    1. Thanks so much for a wonderful welcome, Tina!

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    2. YAY, KAREN, soooo great to have you here, ESPECIALLY talking about one of my favorite subjects!! :)

      Hugs!!
      Julie

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  2. I love nothing more than an opening line that reaches out and pulls you into the story. I'm worrying that the opening line of my book is just jarring: "Who am I?" (Is that too weird? Too metaphysical?)

    Some of my favorite opening lines are from children's books or YA:

    "In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit." (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit)
    "Sabrina had never picked a lock in her life, but it was done every day in books." (Elswyth Thayne, Tryst)
    "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man, in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." (What's-her-name)

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    1. Not that What's-her-name wrote YA or children's books. (Note to self: review comment before hitting publish!)

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    2. LOL. What's her name is Jane Austen. I understand you Evelyn. :)

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    3. Me, too, on the first lines, Evelyn. I can read a first line over and over just like I can stare at a great book cover for way too long, admiring the craft.

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  3. I love opening lines that grab me, pull me into the story and don't let me go until the very end.

    I just pulled two books off my keeper shelf, Dark Deception by Nancy Mehl and Though None Go With Me by Jerry B. Jenkins. The opening line in Nancy's book is "Playing dead was harder than she ever could have imagined." and in Jerry's book, "The call that made Elisabeth cringe ever after at any ringing phone came just before midnight in the winter of her forty-fifth year."

    Your book, Waiting for Butterflies sounds wonderful and I would love to be in the drawing for a copy. Thank you for the opportunity.

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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    1. Nancy Mehl writes such great stories..... Love them.

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    2. Great first lines, Cindy! Thanks for sharing...and thanks for the encouraging words about Butterflies!

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  4. Welcome, Karen! I love the first line because it can tell me so much about the writer's voice. One of my favorites comes from my favorite book, GONE WITH THE WIND.
    "Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were."
    Thanks for visiting today!

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    1. Thank you, Jill! And that first line...definitely a classic. ;-)

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    2. Oh, Jill, yes, Yes, YES on that first line from GWTW!!! I am a GWTW freak as well, and that first line reeled me in like a bass on a hula grub (which is one of my analogies, compliments of my husband. ;))

      Hugs!!
      Julie

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  5. Great post! Opening lines are so important and are what I read when browsing for books. One of my favorites is from The Husband Tree by Mary Connealy.

    Belle Tanner pitched dirt right on Anthony’s handsome, worthless face.

    Wow!!!! 😉

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    1. Laughing! YES! That's still one of my favorite Mary books, although I love them all.. but Belle Tanner is my FRIEND!!!!

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    2. So many thanks, Sherrinda. I love that line and how attached we get to some characters--right, Ruth? :)

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    3. Sherrinda, what a great line!!

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    4. Karen, Belle was such a snark, a woman of independent spirit, and she'd buried husbands before... I just loved her! I think if I'd been a pioneer woman, I'd be Belle!

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    5. Must read that one, Sherrinda! Thanks for sharing! I'm still smiling. LOL

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    6. LOL, Sherrinda -- that's one of my faves too! ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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    7. Yes! Belle is so strong and fierce. I wanna be like her when I grow up. I've rea this book several times. Definitely on my keeper shelf.

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  6. What a wonderful post, Karen... and welcome to Seekerville! Congratulations on your debut novel... what a thrill that is, and what a novel premise for a story. Good for you!

    I love opening lines. I love opening paragraphs. I love opening pages... So this evocative post hits home.

    Well done!

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  7. Coffee is here! Your choice of add-ins... caramel shots, amaretto, hazelnut... and of course, pumpkin spice! Let's rock this fall morning.

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    1. Coffee, yes! But I'm a half with half 'n half girl -- half a cup of coffee, fill the rest with cream!

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    2. that's me too! and here I thought I was the only one...

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    3. Ms. Ruth, please pass the pumpkin spice!

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    4. Done. Pumpkin spice is here to stay and I was happy anyway.... (a lame poem, but youse guys get it.)

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    5. You DO know how to satisfy, Ruthy!!!!!

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  8. Hi Karen! Good to see you here. Great post :)

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    1. Thank you, Patricia! Being here is such a blessing!

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    2. AND...PATRICIA BEAL! One of my new favorite authors, as well! (Again, SEASON TO DANCE, one of my all-time FAVES and a KEEPER.)

      Karen, scroll down... My comment to you is there. I promise! :-)

      Oh, while I pause here, though - I must know. Are either of you considering sequels???? *crosses fingers*

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    3. I think I'm going to have to consider a sequel. I've been asked too many times (what a tremendous compliment)! Thank you, Cynthia!

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  9. Karen, can you tell us more about Walrus Publishing? I went to the website but would love to hear more, and I'm sure our readers would, too...

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    1. Certainly! Walrus Publishing is an imprint of Amphorae Publishing Group, a small press in St. Louis, MO. Amphorae publishes a variety of genres from children's and YA to literary fiction, memoir and nonfiction, several of which are award winners. Donna, Lisa, and Kristy are absolutely wonderful to work with. They were patient with my rookie questions and taught me so much about writing and publishing.

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  10. Karen, this has given me a lot to think about. I've been conscious of my first paragraphs for a while, but didn't realize how much the first LINE needs to grab. This is something I'll be working on.
    Kathy Bailey

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  11. As always, a wonderful and informative post, Karen!

    H'mmm. How about this for a first line?

    "The first person I met in England was a hallucination." (The Alice Network)

    Pat
    www.patwahler.com

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    1. Pat! and K9. Welcome to Seekerville!

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    2. Thanks so much for stopping by, Pat! You are always such an encouragement. And thanks for sharing a great first line...lots of questions!

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  12. I always think of the first line from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, but that has already been mentioned. Charles Dickens was a master of first lines I think. They were short and quite concise. From A Christmas Carol "Marley was dead, to begin with." From A Tale of Two Cities "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

    Your book looks good. Please enter me in the drawing.

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    1. Sandy, those are great opening lines. I remember when they gave our kids an abbreviated version of Tale of Two Cities, they TOOK OUT THAT LINE... and I couldn't believe it. Why would anyone, in any capacity, think that was smart? To eliminate one of the most notable opening lines in history????

      Even Bert and Ernie had their version on Sesame St. "It was the best of oatmeals, it was the worst of oatmeals..."

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    2. Sandy, that's one of my most favorite first lines and one of the most famous around, the one from A Tale of Two Cities, so thanks for mentioning that!

      And, Ruthy -- LOL on the Sesame Street version -- never heard that before!! ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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    3. Ruthy, I can't imagine why the first line would be taken out of the children's book. Not like it's difficult reading or anything! I am not familiar with the Bert and Ernie version. :)

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    4. The English teacher in me definitely appreciates those classic first lines. Thanks, Sandy!

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  13. Karen, it's great to see you here! Welcome. Great post! A first line I recently read: "You can't call that a settlement offer." Rachel Dylan, Deadly Proof.

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    1. Deadly Proof is fabulous, Sally! Great first line example.

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    2. Yes, it is! Love all her books.

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    3. Thank you for the kind welcome and for sharing another good first line to add to the list!

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  14. Great post, Karen. You've given me a lot to think about in terms of my own writing. I actually can't think of any "favorite" first lines, which saddens me. Now, I'm determined to write a first line that's memorable. :)

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    1. Writing one is even better than finding one to share! You go, girl! :)

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  15. I kind of love Julie Lessman's opening line in Isle of Hope 'When it comes to burning bridges, I am the Queen of Kerosene." I identified with it, laughed at it, and read it again for fun. And I wanted to know what was going on. Knew I was in for a terrific read.

    Thanks for this post Karen. I didn't even get through point 1 before ideas and thoughts were running through my EnerGel onto a little yellow note pad.

    Thought provoking and only on my second cup of coffee, too!

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    1. Barbara, I have never heard the term EnerGel before!

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    2. It's the name of my pen. I love them!

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    3. Barbara, Oh my that is a fabulous first line! Yay Julie! :)

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    4. Barbara, thank you SOOO much for mentioning my first line from Isle of Hope. It's one of my faves of those I've written as well, so I'm glad you liked it too!

      Thanks, Sharee -- I absolutely LOVE first lines, which is one of the reasons I absolutely LOVE Karen's post today in addition to the fact it's AWESOME!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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    5. That isn't just a memorable first line, it's a quotable first line! I'm so happy my post inspired a few good thoughts for you, Barbara!

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  16. GOOD MORNING, Karen and Seekerville! I love those first lines that capture me and doesn't let up until I read the final word. I also enjoy the First Line Friday Blog posts hosted by Meez Carrie of Reading Is My Superpower!

    I brought Earl Grey and chocolate chip scones to share.

    Have a fabulous day!

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    1. CARYL!!! Are you still evacuated, my friend?? Been praying for you and everyone in Florida.

      And like you, I love the "First Line Fridays" that Meez Carrie and others do -- sooo much fun!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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    2. First Line Friday's, "kissability," book boyfriends...so much to love about MeezCarrie! <3

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    3. Who put that apostrophe in Fridays?! Oops!:)

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  17. My favorite lines are:
    Mary Connealy's Calico Canyon: "The Five Horseman of the Apocalypse rode in. Late as usual."
    Missy Tippens' Her Unlikely Family: "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."

    I know there are more, but those two came to mind first. My favorite from short stories I've written:
    I always thought my Mom was a certifiable nut case, right until the moment some dude threw a fireball from his hands and turned her into la femme flambé.

    This post is great. I think I'll be looking through my favorite books to inspect first lines to see if they match your criteria. I'm guessing they will. Should be a fun and enlightening exercise.
    Waiting for Butterflies piques my interest. What is the opening line of the book? Just curious...

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    1. Deb, I love that line from Missy Tippens' book!!

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    2. Thanks, Deb and Sharee! I had so much fun with that line. Most of it came to me while I was chaperoning an elementary school field trip! LOL I jotted it on either a napkin or maybe it was a piece of a grocery list. Then later, my critique partner Lindi Peterson helped by suggesting the Fort Knox for that last part instead of what I had written. So Lindi gets credit for Fort Knox!

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    3. Deb, I also meant to say that I love the line you shared! "I always thought my Mom was a certifiable nut case, right until the moment some dude threw a fireball from his hands and turned her into la femme flambé."

      Love it!

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    4. DEB, those are two of my faves as well. So much so that I used them both in a first-line blog I did once because they are top of the line, in my opinion!!

      Hugs!
      Julie

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    5. Deb, don't you just love first lines that make you say, "I wish I wrote that"? Thanks for sharing good ones! Eh...I wrote and rewrote and rewrote the first line of Butterflies and finally went back to the original...which should give you some idea of my struggle...and what led me to eventually study first lines (after Butterflies). Since I wasn't satisfied with the first line, I'm giving you the first two (from memory the best I can...I'm sitting in a coffee shop before traveling home from a meeting today): Maggie heard the key in the front door and looked at the clock on the nightstand--1:24 AM. Nearly twenty-four hours had passed since the phone jarred her awake and Sam out of bed.

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  18. Karen, great tips for focusing on that first line! My two WIPs will benefit from your post. Oh, those elusive perfect openers! I'm still searching, but your advice will help.

    A recent book by Ruth Logan Herne, Peace in the Vally, grabbed my heart with its first lines. For once in his life, Trey Walker Stanford had aced his two older brothers. The fact that he had to risk his life and offer up a chunk of his liver to claim the title made it a dubious honor. The first sentence had me filled with questions, then the second rocked my emotions. I love a self-sacrificing hero!

    Thank you so much for visiting Seekerville and chatting with us! You've given me new ways to look at my openings.

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  19. Good morning Karen, I'm so excited to see you here!! Waiting for Butterflies is OUTSTANDING so I don't need to be entered into the drawing because I read it and loved it :)

    Those first lines are so crucial. Our first impression to the reader we may never meet again. Great post and reminder. I've ever heard that we need to be thinking about those first lines on every chapter.

    I loved this first line from DiAnn Mills Deep Extraction: "Anything could happen while the dead slept."

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    1. Sharee, thanks for introducing me to Seekerville! DiAnn grabs the reader from the start and doesn't let go. :)

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  20. Karen, the best first line I remember was from The Bachelor by Kate Bridges.
    "Good heavens, they're auctioning off men."

    First lines set the tone. So important.

    Waiting for Butterflies sounds great.

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    1. LOL, Connie, that is a FABULOUS first line! I'm going to go check that book out!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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    2. The song "It's Raining Men" suddenly started playing in my head! :)

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  21. Hi Karen - Waiting for Butterflies is on my TBR. I'm not too good at first lines. Sometimes I just start and come back later to do the first line when I know more about where the story is heading. Mary Connealy does excellent first lines, jumping right into the action. Thanks for an excellent post.

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    1. Thanks for being interested in Butterflies. :) I hope the post helps. It helped me to think through it all as I wrote. :)

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  22. Karen, welcome! Thanks for sharing those great examples. They definitely make me ask lots of questions. You made me want to run over to my wip to make some adjustments! :) I suspect I put too much in my opening. I need to leave people wondering more about my heroine.

    Thanks for the great post!

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    1. I'm still working on the first line of my WIP, too. I'm several chapters in but keep playing with different ways to write that opener. I hope you come up with something you love!

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  23. WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE, KAREN!

    First... *gulp* My previous perfect comment (ha!) totally got eaten. (NOT a fan of Blogger, but you know I love ya, SEEKERVILLE!) And... I'll try again. :-)

    Loved, loved, loved WAITING FOR BUTTERFLIES. The "time" element drew me in. I wondered what would be significant about that time on the clock. Loved the way you tied up all the loose ends in a story refreshingly different, yet uplifting and gently spiritual, too. (Thanks for making me clear my sinuses more than once!)

    FRIENDS, GET THIS BOOK!!! Tip: Have a box of tissues on standby, brew a pot of coffee, and grab a box of chocolate. You won't want to stop reading until you're finished. Ahhh...

    Let's see. Where were we? Hmm... Oh, first lines. One of my favorites is from a recent read of Amy Sorrells. From LEAD ME HOME: "All at once, the Reverend James Horton understood why Frank Whitmore had killed himself."

    Of course, that begs the question, "Okay. Why?"

    That drew me in and made me want to know more. (Fantastic story, BTW.)

    CONGRATS, Karen, and much well-deserved success!

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    1. Cynthia, thanks for the heads up on having Kleenex handy! :)

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    2. Missy, it's soooo good. It's worth every bloomin' tear. And...every bite of chocolate. And every sip of coffeeeeeeee. :-)

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    3. Cynthia, I give your comments a hearty AMEN. I never cry and Waiting for Butterflies had even me sniffling.

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    4. Ladies, thank you so much for making a girl smile (so big the lady at the table across from me in the coffee shop looked at me...so I smiled at her, too, and now really thinks I'm a weirdo.) :) I kinda boo-hooed when I wrote Butterflies and wondered if readers would feel it or if I was emotional because I was close to my characters. It's really a great feeling to know something I wrote could touch someone else. Thank you for this!

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    5. I always figure a scene that makes me boo-hoo while I'm writing it is going to be a good scene for readers. :)

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    6. I really wondered about that, Missy, and then I read something Jerry Jenkins wrote (paraphrased): When you write a scene, if you're bored, the reader will sleep; if you cry, the reader will weep.

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  24. So glad to have you as our guest today, Karen! I loved all your examples of effective first lines. I still remember a workshop on first lines I attended at a Mount Hermon conference many, many years ago. It has made me think hard over every first line I've written since.

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    1. Thanks, Myra! Do you have any go-to strategies you use for first lines?

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  25. Karen, welcome to Seekerville! Thanks for this excellent post on first lines! We've always been told the first line needs to grab the reader. You've narrowed that down by reminding us to write first lines that raise questions or produce emotion in the reader.

    Congratulations on your debut. I love the premise of Waiting for Butterflies.

    Janet

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    1. Thanks so much, Janet! Sometimes I'm still amazed when I see my name on my book. :) It's surreal in so many ways. Thank you for your kind words about Butterflies. :)

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  26. Mary ConnealySeptember 11, 2017 at 11:40 AM
    I have two personal favorite first lines. Both have prologues so maybe they don't count, but stilllll

    IN a book by Julie Garwood.....Katy McKenna's Wonderbra saved her life.

    And in a book by Alex Kava....there's just no good way to pick up a human head.

    Both just about FORCE you to read on. :)

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    1. LOL, Mary -- those are GREAT!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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    2. Mary, those are both great!! That one about the human head made me laugh out loud!

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    3. ALEX Kava is from Nebraska, though she lives elsewhere now, and I've met her a couple of times. She writes FBI Thrillers. So laughter is, in this case, extremely inappropriate, Missy!!!

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    4. So...I'm trying to imagine how a Wonderbra can save a girl's life! :) And I love that you included the human head line (QUESTIONS!). I had a somewhat repulsive first line in the first version of this post but decided to take it out since this is an inspirational romance group. But oh the questions that first like evoked!

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  27. Too Far Down first line....
    An explosion brought Cole Boden to his feet.

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    1. It's possible I blow too many things up. :(

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    2. There's no such thing as blowing too many things up.

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  28. And in my wip, and this needs work, not because I don't like it, but because I don't think it exactly STARTS the story, just making a humorous comment about a town doesn't really launch anything.
    >>>>>
    Dismal, Nevada—Penny had been here a couple of times, the land office here was where she and her brother Cam had registered their homesteads.
    Never had a town been named so right.

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    1. LOL ... LOVE the name Dismal, Nevada, and LOVE the first lines!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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    2. Wow...love this! We have a Dismal Swamp near our ranch...those who named it probably came from Dismal, Nev. LOL Can't wait for your next book, Mary!

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    3. Dismal definitely sets up expectations for the reader!

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  29. ''Tis the season for pumpkin spice!!!

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  30. I'm so excited to read Karen's book. The cover is simply stunning! How much input did you get on the cover, Karen?

    I'm curious how this story idea was birthed and evolved?

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    1. Tina, this is my FAVORITE question ever! Before I signed with my publisher, I asked if a former student of mine (a graphic designer on the East Coast) could submit a cover for consideration. After some negotiating, the publisher agreed to allow it "for consideration." The little girl on the cover is the daughter of a former student (who now teaches English with me). The photographer is the mother of a former student, who said, "I know exactly what you want" when I explained my vision to her. Except...the ONE picture she sent me with the message "this is the one" was NOT my vision at all. It was hers...and it was SO much better! I sent the .jpg to my former student on the East Coast, and she sent back the cover. The publisher loved it, made some finishing touches, and you see the result. I love the cover so much because I was able to share it with so many people and highlight their talents. Little Briar (the cover model) had her own book signing table at the launch party. I decked her out with a purple feather boa and a tiara. It was so fun! Thanks for asking, Tina. It makes my heart so happy to share this story!

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    2. As for the story idea... A few things inspired my story. Two of them are my biggest fears: the death of a child or my own death before my children are raised. The catalyst, however, was my mother-in-law's early and unexpected death at 61. She had three granddaughters under the age of 3 and often said she wouldn't see them grow up. It used to upset me when she said that...and it turned out she was right. She loved her family, loved being a mother and a grandmother, and I knew she wasn't ready to go. There's a little more to the story, but basically her death prompted the thought, "What if a mother wasn't ready to leave her family?"

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  31. KAREN, WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE, GIRL, AND SOOOOO EXCITED TO TALK ABOUT FIRST LINES!!

    You said: "Then, if we’re lucky, they turn to the first page, expectant, hopeful, daring our first line to be irresistible."

    That is EXACTLY what I do, in that order, so you nailed it!!

    You also said, "When our first lines evoke questions, we entice the reader to seek answers that can only be found by reading further. When we provoke emotion, we require the reader to invest in the story."

    EXCELLENT points, both of them, and I totally concur!!

    Your new book sounds AMAZING, Karen, and a book that could easily become a movie, so you go, girl!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. Thank you so much for that affirmation, Julie!

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  32. You said, "Share some memorable first lines from your Keeper Shelf in the comments."

    Here are a few of my faves:

    Unemployed. Single. And out of brownie mix.
    A Valentine’s Wish, Betsy St. Amant, February 2010

    Don't die, little girl.
    Critical Care, Candace Calvert, May 2009

    Mother died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know."
    The Stranger, Albert Camus, 1942

    This was not the smartest way to die.
    A Soldier’s Family, Cheryl Wyatt, March 2008

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. Three out of four of those first lines are about death...and being out of brownie mix could possibly be fatal, so that's 4/4, Julie! :) Great first lines! Love the sentence structure of the first one.

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    2. LOL, Karen ... I never even noticed that, so sorry for being so morbid on such a great post day, but I was just "dying" to contribute! ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  33. Hi Karen, I'm going back to check all of my first lines. What a great post. Thanks!

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  34. I'm always trying to get a handle on writing a good first line. You're right, raising questions and drawing out emotion are key to a good first line. I so enjoyed your post, Karen!

    Okay, I am finally (FINALLY) reading Julie's Isle of Hope, and I love her first line!

    "When it comes to burning bridges, I am the Queen of Kerosene."

    "She should have said yes." Wish You Were Here, by Beth Vogt

    "How in the world had rain earned such a romantic rep?" From the Start, by Melissa Tagg

    "There simply wasn't enough grace to survive saying goodbye." You Don't Know Me, by Susan May Warren

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    1. Great first lines and great books, Jeanne!

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    2. YAY, JEANNE!! So glad IOH made it to the top of the TBR. Now ... hope it stays there (at the top of the TBR -- to be recommended!) ;)

      Happy Reading!
      Julie

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  35. Karen, so glad you can be with us today. Those first lines are so important. Thanks for helping us dig a little deeper to make them shine.

    Your story sounds intriguing! Love the title.

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    1. Thank you, Debby. What a pleasure today has been!

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  36. As a reader, I'm a bit of a first line fanatic. If I'm trying to decide on what book to read I'll open the books I'm considering and read their first lines. Whichever one snags my interest I read the loser goes back on the shelf to live out the rest of its life in lonely misery... I'm just kidding, I'll probably end up picking it up someday. But this means that I'm extra strict in trying to figure out the first line for my books. Sometimes I'll spends hours, days, months... trying to find the right first line- for some stories I still haven't. The opening line in my first book is: It's a shame really, and my day had started so normally.

    My favorite first line in any book I've ever read is from Rick Riordan's The Lost Hero and it goes something like this; Jason was having a rotten day even before he was electrocuted.

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    1. LOL, Nicki, love that electrocuted one! And I love yours, too.

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    2. Both are great lines, Nicki. I'm like you. I'm a little obsessive about first lines, so I put a lot of pressure on myself when I'm writing my own...which really fosters creativity...not!:)

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  37. Thanks, Karen, for an intriguing post today! Love all the first lines you mentioned and the comments are full of fabulous ones too! So hard to choose...so many great ones out there. I quickly picked a couple.

    1. Perhaps if she simply avoided eye contact. (from a Stitch in Crime by Cathy Elliott).

    2. We must, first of all, try to understand the neurotic dog. (from How to Live with a Neurotic Dog by Stephen Baker).

    The cover for "Waiting for Butterflies" is gorgeous...and I'm sure the story is as captivating.

    Thank you for sharing today.


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    1. You added two more good lines to our running list here, Kathryn! Thanks for the kind words about Butterflies. :)

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  38. First lines are a fun topic! And so true, the best ones raise questions and emotions immediately.

    Here's a first line from a favorite of mine (one I'm rereading now): To Jesse Bird's reckoning, any man charged with driving forty head of Overmountain cattle to market best have three things in his possession - a primed rifle, a steady horse, and a heap of staying power. -from The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton

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  39. I hear a strong voice in that first line. Nice! Thanks for sharing, Courtney. :)

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  40. Seekerville Friends: Thank you for inviting me to share this post with you and for sharing this day with me by reading and commenting. You sure know how to make a rookie feel like a rock star. :) The community you've build here and the encouragement you so freely share with one another are priceless. My heart is full. <3

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  41. Hi Karen and thank you for joining us here in Seekerville with such a poignant post. I love first lines and you gave us some great examples. Love the premise of your debut novel too. I will have to go order it. Thanks again for sharing with us.

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    1. Oh and I'm sorry I don't have my keeper shelf here with me in the RV. We are traveling cross country now so the keepers are at home. But you have a great number listed already here. Great going.

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  42. Karen, so glad you can be with us today. Those first lines are so important. Thanks for helping us dig a little deeper to make them shine.

    Your story sounds intriguing! Love the title.

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  43. First lines are all important as are first pages. I want to be captivated from the very beginning.

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  44. I know first lines are important to draw readers in, but, as a reader, I can never seem to remember any of them after I'm done with the book!

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  45. Karen, thanks so much for being with us in Seekerville" Praying continued success for your stories!

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  46. One of the best first lines I've read in a while is from Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly: "If I'd known I was about to meet the man who'd shatter me like bone china on terracotta, I would have slept in." The book as an ABA novel set in WWII. Thanks for your post, Karen!

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  47. Thank you for your post, Karen and welcome to Seekerville! May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

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  48. I recently read Freedom's Price by Christine Johnson and her first sentences in the prologue piqued my interest immediately. "Catherine Haynes pressed her ear to the study door. A girl of thirteen knew better than to eavesdrop, but how could she not? She had never seen the stranger before." These words suggested mystery and intrigue and I wasn't disappointed!
    Thanks, Karen, for your interesting thoughts.
    Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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