Thursday, January 29, 2009

First Lines

Have you ever noticed that it's those pesky first lines that catch a person's attention? For instance, the first sentence that my future husband ever heard me utter was: "Hi there, is you tooken?" =) True, I was portraying Moonbeam McSwine at the time, chasing menfolk during the Sadie Hawkin's Day Race. The females in our cast had been told to flirt with the men in the audience that night as we ran around, chasing the male members of the cast from this musical production. I spied a cute young man, someone I had never seen before, plopped into his lap, played with his hair, and uttered those inspiring words.

It turned out that this young man was the son of someone I worked with at the local nursing home that summer. For weeks, she had been telling me about this son of hers, someone who was due to return home from his mission to Japan in the very near future. I had no idea that the man I had chosen to flirt with in the audience that night was this son. He, of course, thought the entire thing was a setup since his mother had been pointing me out all night. She had dragged him to see our community play, "Lil' Abner," going on and on about this young woman (me) that he just had to meet. Then I came and sat on his lap and made quite a first impression. =D

Needless to say, I was mortified when I looked over and saw Kennon's mother sitting beside him. That's when it dawned on me that my "catch" that night was a recently returned missionary (he had only been home for about a week). Kennon told me later that when I blushed a scarlet red, jumped off his lap, and disappeared, he knew I was the girl for him. Not only had my opening line inspired him, but he knew by the horrified look on my face that I had not been party to a plot develped by his mother. We began dating after that, and the rest, as they say, is history. ;)

When it comes to writing books, that opening line is a crucial thing. You want to hook the reader right off the bat, drawing them immediately into the story. Choosing an overly used sentence like: "It was a dark and stormy night," is not necessarily a good option. ;) Be creative. Ponder what would capture your attention. Consider how it will affect potential readers. What you select will vary, depending on the type of audience you desire to reach.

Here are the opening lines from some books I've recently read. In fact, I'll make it a matching game. See if you can match the opening line to the title of the book:

1. The scream tore the night apart.

2. When I am in one of my philosophical moods, I am inclined to wonder if all families are as
difficult as mine.

3. My feet pounded the ground as I ran; my heart thumped against my ribs.

4. Long ago and far away in the land of ice and snow, there came a time when it seemed that winter would never end.

5. Everybody says that a good beginning is the most important part of a book, and I've put a whole lot of thought into this one.

6. When I was seventeen, my life changed forever.

(Since Blogger isn't necessarily a cooperative program, I'll list the titles below:)

A. The Forgotten Warrior

B. Sun & Moon, Ice & Snow

C. Tathea

D. A Walk to Remember

E. The Golden One

F. This Just In

Okay, let the games begin. See how many you can match as you ponder the importance of that opening line. I'll send an autographed copy of one of my books, "Moment of Truth" to the lucky soul who first posts the most correct answers in the comment section. I'll keep this contest open until next Thursday.


Nancy Campbell Allen said...

Oh man, Cheri, I'm really lame. I not going to be any good for this contest. I do want to say, though, that I loved your story about meeting Kennon! That is so great. Made me laugh.

Cheri J. Crane said...

Thanks, Nancy. It will be a story our posterity will likely doubt in years to come, but it did really happen that way. =D

And here are the matches:

1. C
2. E
3. A
4. B
5. F
6. D

Jeri Gilchrist said...

Aw, Cheri! I didn't get a chance to try to do the contest. I know I am too late, but I think I could have given you a run for your money. I have read enough of those books (a couple I loved!) I think I could have given it a good go. With all I had going on the last week, I'm just sorry I missed a great oppertunity.
This was a really fun blog and an awesome idea!
When I was reading your post I got to the part where the girl met the guy. I had to skip to the end to see who had written the post. I had a good laugh when I pictured you sitting on Kennon's lap! Too funny! What a riot!
You've got to write something like this again, give us another chance! This was great!

Cheri J. Crane said...

Hi Jeri. =)Glad you liked the story of how Kennon and I met. ;) And one of these days I'll probably come up with yet another contest. This past week was crazy for everyone. And you've had your hands full with everything you were facing. So no worries.

Valerie said...

What a fun game, Cheri. I immediately went to check some books and had a couple (Kerry's was the best sentence, I decided). Now, if you read the books, would you recommend them?

Cheri J. Crane said...

Definitely, Val. I've read five of the six, and I'm currently reading, "Sun & Moon, Ice & Snow," by Jessica Day George. So far it's a great read and I'm about 3\4's of the way through it. =)It's a fantasy novel with a dash of humor. Lots of fun.

"Tathea" is one of my all-time favorite books---Anne Perry's fantasy masterpiece that is extremely symbolic of the last days.

I'm a big Elizabeth Peters fan and I heartily recommend any of her mysteries, including: "The Golden One."

I absolutely love Kerry's book, "This Just In," and plan to reread it again in the near future. I agree, it has the best opening line. ;)

I just read "The Forgotten Warrior," by Kathi Oram Peterson, and really enjoyed it. It's another Book of Mormon novel, this time featuring Helaman's Stripling Warriors, and a sweet young thing from our time.

I read "A Walk to Remember," a couple of years ago, but as I recall, it was pretty good. I only keep books that I like, so I must have liked it. ;)