Those First Words

I am particularly critical of my own first sentences. I rake them over the coals, delete them, yell at them, kill them and start fresh, cry over them and sometimes even damn them to the deepest parts of the earth where no one can find them even if they wanted to. (hehe)

So this morning I have stacked a pile of books that were nearest me, and I am pouring over their first sentence. This is what I've found:


"Sister are overrated, she decided. Not all of them, of course, only the beautiful ones who never let you forget it."
~A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman
(Hooked me)

"When the sun set over Thebes, splaying its last rays over the limestone cliffs, we walked in a long procession across the sand. In a twisting line that threaded between the hills, the viziers of Upper and Lower Egypt came first, then the priests of Amun, followed by hundreds of mourners."
~Nefertiti by Michelle Moran
(Pretty good image right off the bat)

"Robert Cohn was once middleweight boxing champion of Princeton. Do not think that I am very much impressed by that as a boxing title, but it meant a lot to Cohn."
~The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
(It's okay...intriguing)

"Scarlett O'Hara was no beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were."
~Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
(Love it...but I'm biased)

"'This will be over soon, and then I can go back to Tara.' Scarlett O'Hara Hamilton Kennedy Butler stood alone, a few steps away from the other mourners at Melanie Wilkes' burial." ~Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley
(GREAT start!!)

And is mine....

"As Rafe walked through the crowded officer’s club, he stirred the air scented by KREML hair tonic and booze. He breathed in deep, savoring the thick fog of cigar smoke that filled his lungs, reminding him of the dusty Texas saloons back home. But there were no spit-shined cowboys here, nor any curvy blondes with Chantilly perfume dabbed at their necks."
(I just don't know...)


So what do you think? Do first lines matter to you? Because I think they certainly do. From the beginning of the process you are trying to hook an agent, a publisher and then a reader. The first lines are the first thing they see (duh), so do they matter to you?


Music to write to:


  1. They matter to a point as they are the first thing beyond the cover and book description to pull a reader in. Your's is wonderful, pulling in the senses and putting the reader right there beside the character. Love it!

  2. GIA!!! Thank you for including A Passion Most Pure among your favorite first lines -- I am blessed!!

    And, oh honey, they matter, trust me!! I wrote a whole blog on it over at Seekerville entitled The Perfect Pickup Line ... or How to Hook a Reader, and I know what a brat I am about a book if it doesn't hook me on the first line or the first page. So, YES, it matters A LOT!!

    Your first lines are terrific, by the way!! God bless you on your writing journey.