It is quiet in the cold dark house. A single light whams the living room. The grandfather's clock chimes. Outside, the birds are singing in the early morning drizzle. I sit, with my computer in my lap, looking at the screen, trying to find the first line.
I know what I want to write about, and the moment I find the opening sentence, I expect the words will flow out rapidly, falling one over another.
I started thinking about first lines recently, when someone posted a link to the American Book Review's 100 Best First Lines from Novels.
"Call me Ishmael" leads the list. I read through it, and found many old friends; lines that I've often quoted: "riverrun, past Eve and Adam's", " It was the best of times, it was the worst of time", "Someone must have slandered Josef K", "Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road".
I could easily let lost in reverie thinking about these first lines, but it made me think about blogging. Can you remember the first line of any blog posts? Are there any blog posts that you've written that you feel really proud about the first lines?
As I think back over my years of blogging, very few of my first lines are memorable. The first one that comes to mind is a blog post I wrote for work over a year ago which starts, "For a brief moment, I was five years old again in the small sandbox behind my house." There have been a few other blog posts that have started off well. They have typically been posts for work that start off with a story from long ago.
At 11:26 AM, EDT on July 8, 2011, the Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off on the final voyage of the Space Shuttle Program.… It seemed like every year or two a classmate of mine in high school would die in an accident.
So, what first lines do have you written that feel the most compelling? What do you do to come up with good first lines? For me, I set aside extra time to find that first line. If it is morning, perhaps I have some coffee and oatmeal while I wait for the line to come. Now, I'll add scanning the American Book Review's list of 100 Best First Lines from Novels to my methods of searching for inspiration.