Angie’s Randoms: First Lines, First Reactions

At a recent SCBWI conference, I attended a workshop on first pages and the many ways to hook a reader/editor/agent with what I present in the first few lines of my story. So, curious how other writers fared in hooking my interest, I grabbed the first five books stacked on my desk that my eyes landed on and read their first lines. Here’s what I found:

1) WAKE by Lisa McMann. “Janie Hannagan’s math book slips from her fingers.”

My reaction: Hmmm…she likes math just about as much as I do. OK, I like her! Let’s keep reading…

2) A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY by Libba Bray. “Please tell me that’s not going to be part of my birthday dinner this evening.”

My reaction: OMG, what is it? It must be gross. Squid? Liver? Lima Beans? Must keep reading…

3) THE LUXE by Anna Godbersen. “In life, Elizabeth Adora Holland was known not only for her loveliness but also for her moral character, so it was fair to assume that in the afterlife she would occupy a lofty seat with an especially good view.”
My reaction: A little run-on for my attention span, but the last bit was witty enough to grab my interest. Starting out with the MC’s death is also bold, so I’m in.

4) A CURSE DARK AS GOLD, by Elizabeth Bunce. “When my father died, I thought the world would come to an end.”
My reaction: Oh, I hate myself for reading like an editor! I spotted the cliché and winced, but I have heard so many great things about this novel, and I even had to order it from my local bookstore because they didn’t have it in stock—so read it I will, and to the very last page!

5) FEVER 1793, by Laurie Halse Anderson. “I woke to the sound of a mosquito whining in my left ear and my mother screeching in the right.”

My reaction: Hey, I thought we weren’t allowed to begin a book with someone waking up! Or on a plane! These rule breakers…who do they think they are, Laurie Halse Anderson or something? Oh…right. Never mind.



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