Saturday, January 28, 2017

First Lines (Part 1)

Last summer, Rachel Heffington compiled a lovely little post of first lines from her stories and flash fiction pieces. Thinking that was a fun idea, I scrounged through documents both well-used and nearly-forgotten. What I found was a mix of the mysterious and the ridiculous, the excellent and the mediocre. Placing these first lines side by side, it's interesting to note the patterns of how I begin stories, and how I've grown over the years. I found so many pieces from which to pull, I've split this into two posts.

Note: There's no particular order to these snippets.
★ How to Make Drawing a Part Of Your Life | Daily Creativity by Keeping a Sketchbook ★:
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***

The chosen ones have not yet arrived. Lord Mauray paced from one end of the balcony to the other, his boots slapping the tiles in a restless rhythm. He paused at the railing and scanned the labyrinth of rooftops and bustling streets below. A wide thoroughfare cut through the city. Across the outlying fields in the distance, a dark speck appeared.


A messenger--but does he bring news of life or death?

[The Prophet's Quest, novel, complete]


***


He stood in the pouring rain, left hand loose at his side and right hand clenched around something. His clothes had long ago soaked up as much rainwater as they could. Now they clung to his shoulders like a cloak of grief and wrapped his legs like chains. Evening darkness shrouded the forest clearing. He stood alone--a solitary pillar holding up the thundering sky.


[Ann Marie, unfinished]

***

"I'm beginning to think your debts are going to cost you more than your life."

[untitled, unfinished]


***


Landon awoke with his face wet and the damp leaching into his clothes.


[untitled, unfinished]

***


A rainstorm usually affects a single region, for thunderheads can only be so and so big, and cloud banks can only stretch so far. But this deluge rolled across the entire cosmos in one day.

[tentatively titled Our Destiny, unfinished]

True book Love. Girl carrying an armful of books. ~Artist: Unknown:
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***


"Keeping my share of the loot, Char?" the tall man sneered down, twisting his bronzed features.


Charlotte flicked him a glance. "Never, Wolf." She tossed him an amulet. "That good enough?"


[Redemptive Scars, short story, complete]

***


Rodin jammed the shovel into packed earth. The blade rang against a stone, and he dug it up. As big as two fists, it was--and not his own moderately-sized fists, either--more like the farmer's meaty paws. Rodin picked up the rock with one hand and hurled it over his shoulder, where it clattered onto a pile of its brethren.


[untitled, unfinished]


***


It's not the first time Blair has asked me to dive, and I know it won't be the last. Serebell has too many secrets left in it to abandon our mission.


[untitled, unfinished]


***


Once upon a time, there lived a peasant man in a village. This man, Ewald, had little more than the threadbare tunic on his back and the sieve-like thatched roof  above his head.


Every day, he worked a patch of stony ground. "It's me garden," he'd say of it, when inquired by foot-travelers passing through. They'd raise their eyebrows at the pebbly soil and stunted green shoots, and walk on by without comment. But poor as the 'garden' was, for Ewald, it was his only source of income.


[untitled allegorical short story, unfinished]


***


"No, not you. Anyone but you." Prince Tyrus--by all appearances thoroughly overwhelmed by the sight before him--covered his eyes, then scrubbed his hand down his face as if resigning himself to meet it head-on after all.


[To Fool the Court, unfinished]

Lost between the pages of a book.  https://www.facebook.com/chrisgurney.author?ref=tn_tnmn:
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***


The young man gaped at me with something between wonder and terror in his eyes. "How'd you do that?" he stammered.


I rolled the strawberry-sized ball, sickly green and smooth as marble, between my fingers. "I don't know."


[untitled, unfinished]


***


This is a story that took place a very long ways away from where you live. So you've probably never laid eyes on the magnificent Macaroni Kingdom. Too bad. You would have liked it. (The King ordered everyone to like it, but most do anyway.) The Macaroni Kingdom is my home, and that of many other macaroni penguins. Oh, I suppose I should introduce myself before we continue. I'm Mac, short for Mac 'n' Cheese, because my brilliant parents thought that was a good name for a macaroni penguin. (That's a lot of pasta, I know, and it's about to get worse.)


[The Quest of a Macaroni Penguin, short story, complete]


***

There it is! Beginnings are key when it comes to stories. The best ones hook us with their intrigue, unexpectedness, or humor. The worst ones make us put a book down and never pick it up again. I'm not too sure where mine fall in that spectrum, but nevertheless, this was a fun exercise.

Which ones are your favorites? What's a first line that you've read or written that you absolutely love?




31 comments :

  1. OH MY WORD.

    TRACEY.

    I LOVE THIS.

    Like wowwwwww, the third one?! SO INTRIGUING. And actually, they ALL are! You have such a beautifully rich writing style--I AM JEALOUS OF YOUR SKILLS. Gosh, Tracey, just...wow.

    AND THE LAST ONE. *dies of laughter* I want to read that story sometime! It sounds absolutely hilarious! XDDD (Macaroni penguins is a work of genius, methinks. ;D)

    Hm...I don't think it's possible for me to pick ONE favorite. But I especially loved 1, 3, 5, and the last one. Those just really intrigued me! :D

    These were absolutely amazing, girl! I would do this sometime...but my first lines are rather boring. :P *coughs*

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    1. EEK, MARY, THANK YOU!!! *hugs* How is it even legal for you to make me smile this much? ^_^

      Maybe I need to post that one in segments--just for laughs. It's an old story, and not terribly skillful, but it would be fun. XD (And actually macaroni penguins are a real thing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macaroni_penguin)

      Thanks! I'm rather partial of number 1, myself. ;)

      You should TOTALLY share your first lines! I'm sure they're not boring at all. You as the writer might think so simply because you've read them over so many times.

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    2. P.S. Your new profile picture is adorable! <3

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  2. What a fun post! I particularly enjoyed that last line! :D

    ~Liv
    oliviakfisher.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks, Liv! That was a fun story to write. XD

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  3. OH MY GOODNESS, I loved this, Tracey! This post was such an epic idea - I might have to do one of my own ;).

    LOVED your first line of The Prophet's Quest - I can't wait until it's published and I can get my hands on the pretty little thing xD. IT'S GOING TO BE GLORIOUS.

    Thanks for sharing your work with us, Tracey! This was so fun to read <3.

    ~ Savannah
    scattered-scribblings.blogspot.com

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    1. YES DO IT. POST THE SAVANNAH WORDS.
      -Ariel

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    2. I agree with Ariel: POST THE SAVANNAH WORDS.

      Awww, thank you so much, girl! I appreciate that. Though at the wordcount it's at, it might be a bit more than a "pretty LITTLE thing." *coughs nervously*

      Thanks for reading, Savannah! :)

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  4. These are SO GOOD. :D

    I really like the one from Ann Marie and the one from Redemptive Scars. Gah, I love them! <3 Also, that last one is probably the best thing I've ever read. XD

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    1. You're so sweet, Madeline! Thank you! Ahahaha...that one has a goofy story behind it, one which I may have to share if I decide to post the whole tale on the blog. ;D

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  5. OH
    MY
    GOODNESSSSSS.
    THIS IS SO FUN.
    ALL THE BRILLIANT TRACEY LINES.
    I LOVE IT SO MUCH.
    *HUGGLES POST*

    I love how many different things you have! How you don't limit yourself to one type of story. And each and every one piques my interest so muuuch!!!

    Oh man, you want me to choose a FAVORITE? BUT THEY'RE ALL SO GOOD. Your opening for TPQ is FANTASTIC. It sounds EXACTLY like something I'd want to read. Seriously, if I picked it up in a bookstore and read that opening, I'd totally buy it! I adoooore the second one, Anne Marie. And I remember that flash fiction piece and just lskdjflsj;dlkjf. Then the one below that one, the debts one, makes me want to know mooooore. I'm also super interested in the allegorical one! I love allegories!

    AND THE MACARONI PENGUIN ONE. TRACEY. THAT IS HILARIOUS. I love it so much! I CAN'T. You are so skilled at writing gorgeous feelsy stories, and then turn around and write hilariously witty ones. YOU ARE A WRITING WIZARD.

    This is totally incoherent but I don't even know how to word anymore. Your words make me STOP wording because allllll the gorgeous. I get so excited when I get to read ANY of your writing. I CANNOT WAIT FOR PART 2!!!

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    1. CHRISTIIIIINE, WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH YOUR SWEETNESS? Thank you is about all I can think of! XD

      That's the fun of flash fiction and short stories--getting to play around with genres outside my habitual rut (*cough* fantasy *cough*... except almost all of these wound up as fantasy after all? I don't even know).

      GAH. THAT. THAT JUST MADE MY DAY. I'm so excited to think of you picking it up at a bookstore one day! aklsfjasklfjsalkj <3333 Thank you for all those remarks on the different openings!

      *gigglesnorts* Flexibility is a good thing, I guess? XDDD I'm 99.9% convinced to post The Quest of a Macaroni Penguin, simply because it's not something I'd ever publish, but it's something to laugh about. XD

      Thank you so MUUUUUCH! *hugs forever* <3

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  6. I love this! All of these first lines are delightful. If I had to choose a favorite I think I'd go with the one from "To Fool the Court"--that introduction to Prince Tyrus makes me love him immediately. :)

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    1. Thanks, Lucy! Ah, yes, Prince Tyrus grabbed my heart the minute I started writing him. One of these days I should go write his full story. :) Thanks for reading!

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  7. That's one of the many things I love about reading blogs by writers: I get to read their lovely snippets!

    I like the beginning to 'Our Destiny', and that penguin one is fun!

    I'm eager to see what you have in store for the next post!

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    1. Aw, I'm flattered!

      Thank you, Blue! Our Destiny was one of the most intense flash fictions I've written. My brother picked out a piece of music (same title; it's by Two Steps from Hell), and I had to write something based on that. A really fun exercise, if you like writing to music!

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  8. The first line of "To Fool the Court" might be my favourite, although, even though it's not technically the first line, "He stood alone--a solitary pillar holding up the thundering sky" pulled me in.

    For some reason whenever anybody asks me the first line of one of my stories, I can't remember any of them. Maybe I'll do a post like this and include some of the not-at-all-skillful opening lines of my old work. Some are so bad they're funny.

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    1. Thank you for pointing out that sentence--if I ever write a full story of this, that may just be the hook! A better first sentence than what I had. :)

      Ha, trust me--I didn't remember any of these off the top of my head! The only one I have memorized is The Prophet's Quest, and that's because I've been working on that book for years. XD
      You should totally do a post like this! Drop me a link if/when you do, because I'd love to read it. (And old, not-at-all-skillful lines are the best. XD)

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    2. https://ofdreamsandswords.wordpress.com/2017/02/03/first-lines/ I had more than I thought, and I didn't put all of them in. I used to start stories and not finish them a lot.

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    3. Thanks for the link--I just left a comment!
      Well, most of the lines I included come from stories I never finished as well. :P

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  9. These were so much fun to read! I may have to try this tag... though I have to admit I'm somewhat jealous of HOW MANY first lines you have! I don't think I can pick a favorite, they are all SO GOOD and compelling. I would continue reading any one of these, based on the first line.

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    1. I mean, I may have to steal this post idea. :)

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    2. Thank you, Jenelle! ^__^ Please do feel free to steal it! It wasn't mine to begin with, anyway, and I'd love to read your opening lines.

      Pfft, the reason there's so many is because most of these come from unfinished works! Some of them I don't ever plan to finish, and others are patiently (or not so patiently) waiting for me to get to them. XD

      But askfjasldkjfa, THANK YOU TIMES A MILLION. That means a lot coming from a published author. <3

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  10. These are quite good! I think the Ann Marie one is my favorite. I notice a running theme through them, a formal style, with a bit of a Victorian air. That's not to say that each one doesn't have distinct voice (and some are more formal than others), but I'd be interested in seeing something a bit more playful, perhaps. I think we use similar mechanics for how we start stories.

    Some of my favorite first lines I've penned (chosen from some of my more recent stories):

    "The sky octopi were doing their dirty work as the line began to form." ("Best in Town")

    "“I’m not sure we have the same definition of ‘safe’, sir,” said Major Stronson." ("Safe Flight")

    "Darkness swallowed the horizon in one ravenous gulp."("Once and For All")

    "Transit Dragoon Charles Haymaker minored in Communications while studying at the Hegemon’s Police Academy." ("White, Rubbery Dragoon Uniform")

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    1. Thanks, Patrick! I really enjoyed writing Ann Marie.
      Hmm, interesting observation. I've been told recently that I have a formal style to my narrative (which can be a good or bad thing, depending--in this particular case, it was bad). If I post the macaroni penguin story, that one's definitely more playful, though in a melodramatic way that pokes fun at itself.

      Great lines--thanks for sharing. Sky octopi... now that's quite the image! I really like the "Once and For All" line. Personification is so much fun to work with. :)

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  11. OH. MY. GRACIOUS.
    TRACEY. I CAN'T EVEN. THE TALENT. *flails* Maybe I haven't read enough Tracey words...cuz I just realized HOW STINKIN' GOOD YOU REALLY ARE.
    "He stood alone--a solitary pillar holding up the thundering sky." WUT. The imageryyyyyyy. <3
    And that Macaroni Penguin story. LIKE I BASICALLY JUST WANT TO REPEAT EVERYTHING CHRISTINE SAID.
    Really, I just want this comment to reveal to you HOW TRULY TALENTED YOU ARE. KEEP GOIIIIIING!!
    -Ariel

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    1. ACK, ARIEL, YOU SWEET PERSON. <3 That's so kind of you to say!

      Imagery is one of my faaaaavorite parts of writing, honestly. I'm just laughing at all the mentions of the macaroni penguins, because it's such a terrible story! Which is probably why it's funny. XD

      Thanks again! Encouragement like this helps me keep writing!

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  12. You are such a good writer Tracey. Yeah, if I were to go through all my first lines... I have nothing but first lines, to be honest. I rarely get more than a chapter into my stories (you can tell if I'm interested in writing something XD) so this would be a very looooooooooong post if I were to attempt it on my (nonexistent [as yet]) blog.
    I don't think I can choose a favorite of these... I really like the macaroni penguins, though! :P

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    1. Thank you very much! ^_^ Sometimes you just need to write a few lines (or a chapter or two) to decide if an idea is worth pursuing, right? What's one of your more recent first lines?

      Haha, thanks! That was a fun one. XD

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    2. Oh, absolutely! I get way too many ideas to write them all as stories, though, so I guess it's inevitable.
      The first line of my current WIP is: The mist surrounding the dark tower was so dense that it was like an obscuring veil that had fallen over the woods. That needs some editing.... :P
      This is from my NaNoWriMo novel from November: Her eyes opened. Slowly she became aware of a shriek and an annoyed, unceasing chattering from downstairs. In her mother’s voice. With a moan, she rolled over and sighed. That scream could only mean one thing.
      Opal had gone out to the club last night, and gotten an illegal piercing. Again.
      That one is better. I hope.

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    3. Oooh, lovely! I especially like the NaNo line. Sounds like some interesting character conflicts are coming up!

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