In the beginning...

First lines and daisies remind us that small is beautiful.

In a recent post on Strictly Writing, we looked at famous opening lines of books. Taking that as my inspiration, here are the opening lines to our own books, some published, some going through the publishing journey and some wearing the badge of pride that is 'Work in Progress'.

In no particular order, here are our paper children (phrase borrowed from Richard Bach) along with a few background details. Take it away, Strictlies!

Cracks by Caroline Green
Opening line: 'The first crack was freaky'. 
Genre: YA dystopia
Background: Cal's discovering that his life is not as ordinary as he thought. That's scary. Particularly when it seems he's the very last to know. He needs to find out the truth - but, with lies, danger and deceit on all sides, is there anyone he can trust?

Doll by Tracey Sinclair (pub. Kennedy & Boyd)
Opening line: Before you start feeling sorry for me, there's something I should tell you.
Genre: Fiction. 
Background: Devastated by the death of her best friend, Thea Stanton goes in search of the father who abandoned her as a baby and the family she never knew - only to realise that sometimes the past should stay buried... 

Re:Becca by Deb Riccio (writing as D.A. Cooper. e-book available on Amazon)
Opening line: 'My parents could have been a part of Hitler's army.'
Genre: YA.  
Background: Becca Banks is misunderstood.  When her parents confiscate all her electronic gadgets for doing something silly at school, she starts to understand how life must have been before the age of mobiles, internet and iPods, and she doesn't like it.  She can't see what the bullies are saying about her anymore and she can't stare at Judd Crawley's photo on Facebook until she falls asleep.  Becca's best friend Liberty, however, sees only the good that can come out of the situation but it's her creepy brother Jason who Becca has to watch out for.

Covenant by Derek Thompson
Opening line: For an hour Errmoyne had sat, facing the altar where the stone Tablet rested.
Genre: Fantasy
Background: Isca has followed the faith since childhood, taking her from the Settlements and into the City States. Now, as a priestess, a prophecy bears fruit. But what if the long-awaited Righteous One isn't so righteous after all?

Standing Man by Gillian McDade (pub. History Press Ireland) date to be confirmed
Opening lines: Once he started singing, no one could stop him. It gave him great joy. So when he suddenly stopped and clutched his chest, that's when we knew something was wrong.
Genre: Northern Irish contemporary literary fiction.
Background: Set at the height of the Troubles, the novel explores the complex relationship between a young survivor of a church shooting and a repentant IRA man and asks if it's possible to forgive and move on from the past.

Coming Through by Deb Riccio
Opening lines: 'The last time I saw Price Johnson he'd had his hand up the back of my t-shirt in a valiant attempt at unfastening my shiny new Wonderbra; if I'd had a bit less fear or a bit more to drink I'd probably have told him it was a front-loader and let the passion commence.'
Genre: Rom-Com.
Background: When Price Johnson, the famous Midland's Medium returns to his hometown and drops into his old local radio station for a bit of free publicity, he's surprised to find himself sitting opposite Lizzie McCarrick, the geeky one from High School who was supposed to be a Doctor or a Scientist or a Barrister by now.  His only hope is that she's forgotten everything that he can still remember because he didn't see THIS coming.

Dark Dates by Tracey Sinclair
Opening line: SO, WE’VE all seen Buffy, right? I mean, you didn’t pick this up because the shop was out of Jane Austen and this looked like the next best thing.
Genre: Urban fantasy.
Background: All Cassandra Bick wants is to be left to get on with doing her job. But when you’re a Sensitive whose business is running a dating agency for vampires, life is never going to be straightforward – especially when there’s a supernatural war brewing in London, a sexy new bloodsucker in town and your mysterious, homicidal and vampire hating ex-lover chooses this moment to reappear in your life…

Dead Good by D.A. Cooper (ebook available on Amazon) 
Opening line: 'This sucks.'
Genre: YA 
Background: 16 year old Maddie Preston's father loses his well-paid banking job and moves his family out of their 4 bedroomed home and into a small house that hasn't been lived in for a while.  It's not until Maddie starts seeing the ghosts of the previous residents who perished at the house in a fire that she starts to make sense of life, love and everything in between. With best friend and spiritual know-it-all Amber, Maddie sets out to help the gorgeous (but not breathing)  Leo and his family move on with their deaths.

Life, Lopsided by Deb Riccio
Opening line: 'My left boob is bigger than my right.'
Genre: Rom-Com. 
Background: Lisa Thomas likes her life nice and organised.  Jars have to face out, potatoes evenly roasted; pictures have to be straight and boyfriends aren't supposed to dump you whilst you have toothpaste running down your chin.  So when her mother turns up at the shop where Lisa works looking more like Cher's older, bolder sister than her usual young Margaret Thatcher and announces her father has left her for a girl Lisa used to share tampons at school with, Lisa knows she needs to do something drastic to make everything go back to normal again.

Scars & Stripes by Derek Thompson
Opening lines: Thursdays had always been my favourite day of the week, until that one. "I've got something to tell you," Polly whispered breathlessly, as we stood in her bedroom, "and you're not going to like it."
Genre: Comedy drama.
Background: It's the late 1980s. Madonna's star is still rising and punk is dead, although 20 year-old Alex barely knew it when it was ill. He's been happy to drift along with retro hippy-chick Polly, until she decides that she wants more out of life than watching old sci-fi videos and eating tofu. Something's got to go - and that something is him.

Those first few opening lines can serve many purposes:
- They can entice the reader in.
- They can set the scene and deliver a flavour of what's to come.
- They can tell the reader what the POV is.
- They can give you a sense of the voice (external or internal) of the main character.
- They are the author looking back at you through their words and whispering, 'This is me.' 

Don't be shy, tell us what you think - we can take it. And if you've written something of your own, add your title, first line and genre in your comment.


Sandra Davies said...

These, all dauntingly good, sent me scurryng back to my WIPs to see how well I matched up - and for me Debs's 'Coming through' went to the top of my 'must buy' list.

My WIP first lines are:
"Her proposal came, as he later told her, with the felicitous timing of an amateurishly-plotted novel, one which relied over-much on coincidence to propel it to a credible conclusion." ('Not wanted on voyage' a sort of detective murder mystery) and "‘Oh shit! Shit, shit shit! I know it sounds awful of me, know just how selfish and uncaring it sounds, but if Granny had to die, surely to goodness she could have picked any other time but now!’" which is from 'Making good', the fourth in a family saga.
Do either grab you?

DT said...

'Making good' does it fir me - I like the way you tell us about the character of the narrator, her attitude to herself, and the family dynamic. And it's funny too.

Sandra Davies said...

Thanks a lot for for that Derek, much appreciated - and thanks to this post, and the superb examples of varieties openings, I have re-written 'Not wanted on Voyage' so it now begins a lot punchier, covering a few more of the essentials:
‘Rose’, she said, using his surname as though it were his first but refraining, on this occasion, from the more teasing diminutive since she had a favour to ask, ‘I don’t suppose you fancy being my husband for a week or so do you?’

DT said...

Well, we thought it was about time we brought our beginnings out from the shadows, so they could get a little sun together.

I would imagine that openings are partly determined by their genre. I'm by no means an expert, but I think the line, ‘I don’t suppose you fancy being my husband for a week or so do you?’ makes a great opening on its own. Already we're intrigued about who's asking, why they're asking and who is being asked.

Debs Riccio said...

Sandra I LOVE the Rose opener - I'd definitely want to read on! (thanks for liking 'coming Through' - this has inspired me to re-visit and carry on with it!)

Thrifty Gal said...

I really liked these!