Thursday 20 September 2012

Once Upon a Time

How do you capture the readers interest in the first line?  According to literary agent Rachel Gardner, first lines should fulfill one or more of the following criteria:


1.     clever

2.     thought-provoking

3.     give you a smile of recognition

4.     poignant

5.     present a cool word picture

6.     present an intriguing mystery

7.     introduce a character you want to know better

8.     make you laugh

9.     draw you into an unfamiliar world

10.   demonstrate beautiful use of language


Above all, first lines should make you want to read MORE. 

Here are some famous first lines.  See if you can figure out their sources.
1.  It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
2.  There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.
3.  Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.
4.  Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.
5.  All this happened, more or less.

6.  When he was nearly thirteen my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.
7.  “Well, Prince, so Genoa and Lucca are now just family estates of the Buonapartes.”
8.  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
9.  Early in the spring of 1750, in the village of Juffure, four days upriver from the coast of The Gambia, West Africa, a man-child was born to Omoro and Binta Kinte.
10.  "Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents," grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.
1.  Pride & Prejudice (Jane Austen)
2.  The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (C. S. Lewis)
3.  One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
4.  Back When We Were Grownups (Anne Tyler)
5.  Slaughterhouse Five (Kurt Vonnegut)
6.  To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
7.  War & Peace (Leo Tolstoy)
8.  A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens)
9.  Roots (Alex Haley)
10.  Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

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