Friday, February 4, 2011

First Lines: Would you Love 'Em, or Leave 'Em?

This whole first line/first para thing has got me jazzed. So this morning I crept into my lair (a.k.a the study/library/furnace room) and snatched five novels at random off my shelves. Thought I'd test those first line waters on you. Would you read on?

1. "Priscilla lived in a studio apartment."

2. "Unsolved mysteries."

3. Edith Goodnough isn't in the country any more."

The following two are prologues, which many agents claim to hate. (But heck, a whole barge of books open with prologues. I guess they just have to be written well.)

4. "I haven't laid eyes on the island in several years."

5. "It's hard being left behind."

Can anybody guess who the writers are? (I've listed them below. I've kind of cheated, because each of these had either speaker denotations or chapter headings/locations and dates which may have added to you being able to "spot the writer.") And competitive ol' me wants to see if you can guess. There'll be a big old Badge of Honor waiting for the first commenter who gets it right.

Here are the writers. Which lines did they write? Kent Haruf, Dennis Lehane, Audrey Niffenegger, Agatha Christie, and Tom Robbins?

(I'll reveal all tomorrow, and extend each line into a first paragraph. I think you'll find it interesting, in each case, to see what happens.)


  1. Brain too rattled from work to guess right now but I will say the last two WOULD make me want to read more. :)

    I'll be back!

  2. I kind of hate to say this, but none of those actually do much for me. They certainly don't grab me and make me want to read more!

  3. The only one that would entice me is the last.

    I underwent a similar exercise at a conference a few years ago, but it was whole opening paragraphs. We were all amazed at the prominent authors whose work we would have rejected!


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