Wednesday, March 10, 2010

First Lines

Paul West wrote, "Plotting is sculpture, dialogue is archery. The first sentence in a story has to be a bear trap. Fully inhabit your narrator. Weak verbs are buried, like land mines that won't go off. Make a plot and float your style into it."

Adam Wilson compiled his Favorite Opening Lines

Some of my favorite first lines—at the moment.

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Márquez.


In the town there were two mutes, and they were always together.
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers


In later years, when holding forth to an interviewer or to an audience of aging fans at a comic book convention, Sam Clay liked to declare, apropos of his and Joe Kavalier's greatest creation, that back when he was a boy, sealed and hog-tied inside the airtight vessel known as Brooklyn, New York, he had been haunted by the dreams of Harry Houdini.
Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon


The child stood glum and limp in the middle of the dark living room while his father pulled him into a plaid coat.
"The River" by Flannery O'Connor


The most important sentence in a good book is the first one: it will contain the organic seed from which all that follows will grow.—Paul Horgan

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