The importance of the first line.
I think Billy Crystal's Character, Mr. Donner, from Throw Mama From The Train said it best: "Y'see, Owen, this is what I'm talking about: it's writing. It's finding the perfect word, the perfect beginning, the perfect start. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Now is the winter of our discontent. See what I'm saying? Perfect beginnings. Perfect Words. Do you say the night was humid? Or do you say the night was moist? That's writing."
One thing I know, never start a book or story with "The night was..."
It will drive you crazy.
But, since we're talking about it, I got a chance to go over all of the first lines of my stories.
The sun was setting at the base of the woods, the endless woods from which nature howled.
~Mr. Dead Eyes
(I guess, for my first book, was trying to be wise beyond my years. Like Dickens or something. But this was the first line that cemented me as a writer. Wrote it one warm summer night in 1999.)
Delilah, the victim in this story's grim tale, was snuggled quite uncomfortably on her own hardwood floors.
~Wearing Donnie Torr
(The image of the woman was one of the first things I wanted you to see. I often like to begin right in the middle of the tense action so that there's no escape. You're trapped as well as the woman.)
As I walk in, I can already see "Tex" sitting at the concierge desk.
~Failing Upwards short story
(When I was little, I loved some good old fashioned Tom and Jerry. But my favorite were Tex Avery cartoons. This is a nod to him and all the laughter he gave me.)
Samuel hated this. He hated it all.
~The 75th Last Meal
Don't be alarmed, Allen! I know this may come as a shock but you have got to continue reading if you want to make it out of here.
~Your Escape Plan Now
(I wanted to have the entire plot be revealed in the letter. The first line here was REALLY important to me.)
Alex Dujima stood hovered over the phone, sweating.
~ Alex Dujima's Book Code
The first thing I truly realized was that I was in deep sh#t.
~ The Letters
Horace Grant was one ridiculously hot-headed son of a b#*%h.
Never in her life had she felt this kind of abandonment.
~Bring Him Back Again
It was the beginning of a nice, new spring day.
(I wanted to be opposite with the title, start with something delightful to throw you off.)
Taking the stairs two at a time was dangerous business. I had more sense than that.
~ The Nature of a Second Hand
If you had lived next to apartment 2B, in a rundown, seedy motel by the name of Buck's Getaway, you would have known the horror that became of Scott Hammond.
I'm left here standing alone and afraid in the heat.
~Me and Mine
How do you find your weapon of choice?
(Check out my new weapon, weapon of choice. You know you love that song.)
As a stay at home mom, nobody would have guessed that this particular human being was infinitely special.
In the time before Christ, man discovered fire.
On Glock Block, neighbors stayed in their homes, no matter what.
It was the middle of July, hot as hell, and all four of them would be down in Ronnie's cool basement.
~10 Days in the Extra Life
It all began with a severed finger.
(Wanted to go Hitchcock.)
The word. The word is here. The word is now. Must go. Very dark. No sight.
(Don't you know that the bird is the word?)
I woke up, sun in my eyes, drowsy as hell, and see my wife sitting by the foot of my bed reading a magazine, the top of her curly red hair peeking over the spine of it.
~The Subtle Teachings of Mr. Rifa.
If you say you have no idea who I am, you're probably just lying to your buddies to save face. C'mon, you know you know me.
~My third novel