First lines

Posted by Yvonne Barlow on Tuesday, August 14, 2012
I love first lines - or hate them if they are really bad. When browsing a book shop, the first line has to grab me. If it isn't awful, I am likely to proceed to the next and onward through the whole paragraph - and if that keeps me happy, then the book is mine.
At the moment I'm reading The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. The first line isn't superb: Schwartz didn't notice the kid during the game.
Not wonderful, but I do want to know why Schwartz notices the kid now. 
 This is a novel centered on baseball - a sport I know absolutely nothing about. But by the end of the paragraph, I'm reading about the kid's graceful moves and I'm hooked into this tale. (I read 200 pages on Sunday alone).

First lines can never be dismissed by writers - it is the reader's entry into your story.
So, the Worst Opening Sentence Competition organised by a Californian university is a study in what not to do. Take a look, and see for yourself:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/13/bulwer-lytton-2012-cathy-bryant_n_1773672.html 


Tags: "first lines" "the art of fielding" "worst opening sentence" 
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Yvonne Barlow Editor at Hookline Books - where book clubs and readers choose the novels that go to print.

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