How often does the opener of a new writing project have you staring at a blank computer screen for an unacceptable amount of time? Some of us become nearly paralyzed over those first words. Why isn’t sentence number two, three, or four this darned hard? It seems once sentence number one is written, the next words flow freely! Probably because the pressure is off, our brains unclamp, and the story takes form.
Here is a typical scenario of my writing process…
An idea comes. I feel a rush, typing that first brilliant sentence. Then I read those earth-moving words and…delete it, retype it, and delete it again. “I’ll bet agents have seen this kind of opening line before.” delete, delete, delete. “This isn’t even original!” delete, delete. “Billions of words in the world, and all I have to do is choose a handful of them, group them in the right order, and I’ll have it!”
Today being Wednesday, it’s time for another installment of Prompts and Inspirations to get your creativity flowing. And speaking of first sentences, here are the first sentences from some of my all time favorite books.
1. You wouldn’t think we’d have to leave Chicago to see a dead body. — Richard Peck, A Long Way From Chicago
2. Claudia knew that she could never pull off the old-fashioned kind of running away. — E.L. Konigsburg, From The Mixed-Up Files Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
3. There is no lake at Camp Green Lake. — Louis Sachar, Holes
4. It seems there should have been some warning, but I felt none. — Marlo Morgan, Mutant Message Down Under
5. Until almost the very end, Han van Meegeren thought he had committed the perfect crime. — Edward Dolnick, The Forger’s Spell
6. There’s something frightening, and magical, about being on the ocean, moving between the heavens and the earth, knowing that you can encounter anything on your journey. — Lynne Cox, Grayson
7. I know I’m not an ordinary ten-year-old kid. — R.J. Palacio, Wonder
Now it’s your turn. The pressure is off. After all, this is a writing game to loosen up your thinking, open yourself to crazy ideas, hilarious ideas, or darned serious ones. And what if one of these “just for fun” sentences spurs on your next novel?
A friend of mine lent me his/her favorite book, and the first line took me by surprise. Chapter one began…
Want to share a first sentence from one of your favorite books (current or classic, it doesn’t matter here.)