Thursday, December 21, 2006

First Lines

I'm honing a new opening line. It's turning out a little long, but I'm not sure that's bad.

I'm toying with a story based on an actual experience I had in Dublin . As I walked through a blustery afternoon storm, and old man came toward me, chuckling strangely and looking at me knowingly as if he held some secret. That's about the extent of the real experience so I have quite a bit to make up.

Not sure if the story is going anywhere but I'm toying with an outline and an opening page at least and here's how it starts:

"The old man in the snap-brim cap walked out of the wind, his arms dangling, useless and limp as he angled across the sidewalk on a collision course with Desiree."

Desiree won't be the main character's name. That's a place holder for the moment. Guess we'll see where this goes


Stewart Sternberg (half of L.P. Styles) said...

On the Michigan Writers forum, which is not just for Michigan writers, we've been discussing opening lines.

Me? I don't think there will be too many opening lines longer or more memorable than: "During the whole of a dull, dark, soundless day in the autumn of the year, I had been traveling alone on horseback, and found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy house of Usher".

Alliteration, falling motion, establishing setting with a thick brush and at the same time blowing it dry with a touch of mummy dust. Poe is still my Supreme Diety.

As for you...I very much like the old man walking out of the wind, provided he isn't a zombie. If I read one more Romero zombie story, I'm going to beat someone over the head.

by the way..if you want to come play with us on the Michigan forum board, and I don't mean the Michigan horror writers, let me know and I'll send you the link to register your name. Same invite is extended to Charles.

Sidney said...

I'd love to drop by your forums - please do send the info.

Charles Gramlich said...

Opening lines always seem so important to me. One of my favorites is from Saberhagen, in his first Sword Book. It was: "On what felt to him like the first cold morning of the world, he groped for fire." Opening lines should entice and promise. This one works pretty well it seems to me. The old man is a good starting character. The arms dangling useless and limp is not so clear to me.

Sidney said...

I've worried about the clarity of the concept of the arms. I may work with that wording a little more.

Clifford said...

I'm beginning to feel that first lines are deal breakers, so it's cool you're sharing this with us.

This passage does a bit of work--it makes the reader wonder who the old guy is and what's about to transpire when he bumps into Desiree, but there's no hint that there will be anything more interesting than a mumbled "excuse me" exchange in the offing. Maybe the dangling arms are a clue to something darker or unseemly, but I didn't quite sense what you were after.

What if you began with the actual collision?

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