Where to begin?
I ask the same question when I sit down to write – regardless of whether it’s a new novel, the tenth revision or a guest post for a lovely blog like Remarkable Reads. (Thanks for inviting me, by the way!)
So much rides on the opening lines. I’ve heard numerous book editors say that the first page of a manuscript – some even say the first paragraph (eeks!) – determines whether or not the book will have a chance at publication.
- The third time I tried to kill myself I used a rope. – CRASH INTO ME by Albert Borris
- The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don’t got nothing much to say. THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO by Patrick Ness.
- When my brother Fish turned thirteen, we moved to the deepest part of inland because of the hurricane and, of course, the fact he caused it. SAVVY by Ingrid Law
- We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck. FEED by M T Anderson
- The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit. UGLIES by Scott Westerfeld
- The best day of my life happened when I was five and almost died at Disney World. GOING BOVINE by Libba Bray
These brilliant openings captivated me for different reasons. Some gave me a taste of a unique character. Others demonstrated a compelling voice. And some presented an intriguing dilemma or situation.
When I turn to the first page of a book, I want to be hooked. The first few sentences should provide a hint of the journey to come. I also think the first and the last chapters must resonate with each other. One asks the question and the final chapter needs to provide a satisfying answer. The first sentences should be a gasp and the last a sigh. It’s easy to say, but feels next to impossible to do.
Dark Parties is about a country that long ago closed its borders to people and idea, which has led to a uniform race of people with all the individuality bred out. Neva and her best friend Sanna host a party for their friends in the pitch black. Without the burden of sight, they think they will be free to discover who they really are. They also plan to use the anonymity of the party to invite their friends to rebel against the government.
Now, you decide. Here are the opening lines for Dark Parties. (GULP!)
I’m standing in the dark, not the gentle grey of dusk or the soft black of a moonlit night but pitch-black. My heart batters my ribs like a bird beating its wings against a glass cage. I wave my hand in front of my face. I can’t see it. I never knew it could be so dark. My edges are merging with the inky blackness around me. My dad would finally be proud of me. I’ve blended in.
If you read my book, you’ll notice some parallels with the opening and ending paragraphs. I don’t want to give away too much, but I will say I wanted my readers to start in the dark and end in the light – both literally and figuratively.
I hope you’ll read Dark Parties, and if you do, I hope you’ll tell me what you think at: http://www.sara-grant.com/contact/
So…I’d love to know: How does a book hook you? What are your favorite opening lines?