|Katherine Heigl and Daniel Sunjata (Ranger)|
Yesterday I saw the movie One for the Money, based on Janet Evanovich's first Stephanie Plum book. The opening was a little slow (I think my husband dozed off). The film set up the situation, introduced most of the characters, and worked its way toward the problem. Once that was out of the way, it took off and was fun. Most of the casting was quite good, especially Katherine Heigl and Jason O'Mara.
The slow start made me think of the story setup in books. (I can't remember how it went in Evanovich's book except that I was hooked from the beginning.) It's quite a feat to create interest from the first line. Most of us want to explain what's going on before we get to the story. That's usually the first draft stage. Ruthless pruning comes in later stages.
|Daniel Craig as James Bond|
Ideally first lines, but more realistically first paragraphs, should draw us right in and make us want to keep reading. The opening scene in One for the Money has left me, but Heigl was cute enough to carry it anyway. One that stands out is the opening of Casino Royale, the new one with Daniel Craig. We didn't know anything about the setup but that scene was compelling and dramatic. These two movies are probably not fair examples, because who in the world doesn't know James Bond? And many know Stephanie Plum.
Meanwhile, how does your first line do? I've included a few from recent reads. I only used the first sentence because I didn't get permission and with the current emphasis on copyright laws, I decided to include several and stick to a single sentence. Whole paragraphs are much better and give a better idea of the story, but here they are.
These are all books I enjoyed. Most have samples on the author's website or on Amazon. Try them—I bet you'll want to keep reading.
The vintage Cadillac sailed slowly through the cemetery gates like a battleship looking for its berth. Murder Half Baked by Kathleen Delaney.
What did a man born rich and privileged look like after spending fifteen years in prison and another six hiding in these mountains? Murder Déjà Vu by Polly Iyer.
Eva Molnar had held out as long as she dared. Murder on the
Danube by William S. Shepard.
Oh God, I don't want to go in there. To Tell the Truth by Faye M. Tollison.
Dead if you stay, dead if you jump . . . The Past Came Hunting by Donnell Ann Bell.
For the longest time, Nell Marchand believed the happiest day of her life was the one on which she'd married dashing blueblood Daniel Ellis Overton Marchand IV. Fortune's Fool by Jane Sevier.
Claire checked her rearview mirror once more for the mismatched headlights—tonight, thank goodness, no one lurked on her tail. Cold Comfort by Ellis Vidler.
The wrought-iron gates stood open—again. Dear Killer by Linda Lovely.
"I'm moving in with your girlfriend," said James Stuart.
's Lonely Heart Hotel by Steve Brown. Charleston
Something didn't feel right. Bad Spirits I by D.V. Berkom.
Except for the mermaid on a weedy patch of sea grass ghosting in her wake, Katrina Hunter's solo sail into Mexican headwaters had been monotonous and uneventful. A Dangerous Harbor by RP Dahlke.
How about sharing your first line? What do you try to accomplish with it?