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ChristinaASJ

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PostSubject: First Lines   Thu Oct 02, 2014 8:40 am

How important is/are the first line(s) of a story?
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RosieAnnie

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PostSubject: Re: First Lines   Thu Oct 02, 2014 9:55 am

Short answer: very.

Longer answer: Very important. I've turned away from stories because the first line(s) turned me off. It could be the language chosen. It could be I already see where the story is going, and I don't like it. It could be the punctuation or spelling; if there are errors in the first line, then the author didn't give a damn, so why should I? Move on!

This first line drew me in:
"They moved along in the bobbing, springy gait of a family that followed the woods as some families followed the sea."

How about this one:

"In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing."

How about this first paragraph: doesn't it set the scene beautifully?

"He rode into our valley in the summer of '89. I was a kid then, barely topping the buckboard of father's old chuck wagon. I was on the upper rail of our small corral, soaking in the late afternoon sun, when I saw him far down the road where it swung into the valley from the open plain beyond."

The first lines matter. It's possible to stress too much over it, though. A wise teacher once told me, start writing your story with the second paragraph. That may sound odd, but it does work. You can always go back and revise, rewrite, redo.

I'm looking forward to hearing what other people have to say on this topic.

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Remuda

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PostSubject: Re: First Lines   Thu Oct 02, 2014 11:26 am

Have to agree with RA regarding first line being important. I might read a bit further, but if it doesn't resonate, I won't bother.

That said, RA quoted, for me, one of the best opening lines ever, for one of my favorite books. Yes, the religion and fly fishing drew me in the first time and every time I've gone back to read it. Wonderful book and movie.

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Maz

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PostSubject: Re: First Lines   Thu Oct 02, 2014 12:53 pm

I agree the first lines are very important. Many of us will flick open a book in a store and read the first lines. If it is too heavy, too wordy, too dang dull, I'll put it back on the shelf.


I would also say that the cover of a book is even more important when it comes to making me pick it off the shelf. I once bought a book in Canada, of an author I had never read before. It was wonderful and I was originally drawn to it by the cover. When they published it in the UK the cover was totally inappropriate to the story and had I seen that copy first I would never have picked it up.

So first impressions matter in many ways.

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sistergrace

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PostSubject: Re: First Lines   Fri Oct 03, 2014 12:01 pm

I agree that first lines are VERY important to a story.  Of course there is more to every story than its first line, but first lines mean a lot.  As evidence, here are just a few:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

Call me Ishmael.

It was a dark and stormy night...


and last but not least,

Once Upon a Time.


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WichitaRed
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PostSubject: Re: First Lines   Sat Oct 04, 2014 6:40 am

So when you start a story how hard do you struggle with that first line

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Remuda

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PostSubject: Re: First Lines   Sat Oct 04, 2014 9:13 am

Sometimes great first lines just come, a natural starting point. In those cases, the story tends to write itself.

Other times it takes a bit of writing of a story to see where it's actually going before something for the first line pops, harkening back to what RosieAnnie said about starting at the second paragraph. In this process, I find myself doing more editing of the beginning. But, if the start ultimately doesn't resonate with me, I'll put that piece on the back burner for a bit until something does. Otherwise, I'll figure it wasn't meant to be.

Personally, I find overly long paragraphs daunting anywhere in a narrative, especially as an opening, so as a reader and writer am attracted to / tend toward short lines of dialogue or narrative as openers. The sooner as a reader I'm drawn into the story, the better a chance I'll finish the tale.

These are great questions both, and I'm interested to hear what the askers think.

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InsideOutlaw

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PostSubject: Re: First Lines   Sun Oct 05, 2014 9:43 am

I don't think too much about the first line, I just start writing and wait to see where it all goes. If I gave it too much thought, I doubt I'd get started at all and I can't remember ever going back and changing the beginning once the story is written. One thing that I have noticed is that I often start with dialogue or background color. It's not a conscious choice; it's just that I 'hear' and/or 'see' the story as it unfolds so that's what I write.

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BeeJay
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PostSubject: Re: First Lines   Mon Oct 06, 2014 8:45 pm

I usually re-write the beginning lines of a story more than any other part. That said, I wish I wrote better first lines.


Here's a quiz about memorable opening lines of famous novels:



http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2014/08/27/classic_first_lines_of_novels_in_emojis_a_quiz.html

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FrankieASJ

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PostSubject: Re: First Lines   Tue Oct 07, 2014 2:03 am

My first lines are important to me. They have to take me by the hand and lead me into the story and subsequently, hopefully the reader too. study

Saying that, I don't usually have too much trouble finding first lines - it's finishing stories I seem to have a problem with!!!! writing  scratch scratch  Rolling Eyes

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radiogaga80



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PostSubject: Re: First Lines   Sat Oct 11, 2014 2:04 am

These are tough questions! I tend to rather impulsively and then construct the story so that it sits right with me. But you're right that first lines are important. I remember writing a non-fictional article for the local historical society not too long ago and I knew that the majority of the readers love "familiar" history. I wrote an article about someone who had lived in our village but only for 6 years roughly a century ago. So it was rather unfamiliar history and I really was puzzled on how to introduce the story so that it would draw most people in, rather than make them go, "Nope, don't know that person so can't be bothered." But in the actual writing process, I think I wrote the first lines of the story when I already had 3/4 of the article.
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ty pender

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PostSubject: I keep six honest serving-men...   Sat Oct 11, 2014 6:51 pm

The first line, or first paragraph, sets the scene and theme of your story.  Effectively, it best written after you are done developing your story.  You've learned more at the end than you knew when you started.

In a classic news story, the first paragraph is the 'lead' paragraph and contains all the essential facts of the story; the  Six W's.  You may not need a classic lead, but the concept is a good one.  Use the Six W's in plotting, in development, in shaping each character.  Pare down and focus on the 'lead' - it should  always be in the back of your head. The Six W's will help you avoid the 'ten-million serving men' that keep the story running in a thousand different directions.

I keep six honest serving-men:
 (They taught me all I knew)
Their names are What and Where and When
 And How and Why and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
 I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
 I give them all a rest.

I let them rest from nine till five.
 For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
 For they are hungry men:
But different folk have different views:
 I know a person small--
She keeps ten million serving-men,
 Who get no rest at all!
She sends 'em abroad on her own affairs,
 From the second she opens her eyes--
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
 And seven million Whys!

Rudyard Kipling, The Elephant's Child

Good advice. It will keep you writing this way:




Rather than this way:


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Maz

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PostSubject: Re: First Lines   Sun Oct 12, 2014 12:41 pm

Very often the first lines are easy for me...it's finding the rest of the story that connects and explains them that's the hard part. Rolling Eyes

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ChristinaASJ

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PostSubject: Re: First Lines   Fri Oct 17, 2014 1:23 pm

thankyou  for your replies.

First lines are very important to me when reading and I try my best when writing sunny
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