The First Line

March 6, 2011
By Ryan

The first line is everything.

The first line leads to the second line, and so on, until there are no lines left to read.

Crafting that inviting first line is no easy task. In fact, it’s the most difficult part of writing, except for all the lines that come after it.

Here are a few first lines from various projects I’ve recently published or am currently working on:

“It came to him the way these sorts of things come to people like him.”

“Fog can swallow you whole.”

“Charity began finding broken seashells on her floor each morning when she woke up.”

“The sun had dropped below the horizon, and the woman, slick with sweat and still squatting over the bloody pile of rags she had sculpted into a nest with her feet during labor, heard her husband approach in the darkening room.”

“One straight line spans California, stretching from the Pacific coastline to the Nevada border as if someone sat a copy of The Grapes of Wrath on the map and ran the sharp point of a Ticonderoga pencil along where the spine met the paper.”

“My two-year-old daughter was dancing in the street, my three-week-old daughter was flopped over my shoulder, and my wife was shopping for body lotion in a nearby store.”

“I am like a coyote, and so are you, though our hands more closely resemble splayed lizard claws than padded paws.”

“Once the borders were set and the familiar paths and cities marked in ink, once the lines that bisected and dissected the world were drawn, once the mapmakers of antiquity made the final flourishes on the compass rose, they filled the voids left by the limits of their knowledge with a few simple words: Here there be monsters.”

“A metallic shriek slices through the still afternoon, like R2D2 auditioning for Janet Leigh’s shower scene in Psycho.”

So … do any of these make you want to read any more?

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two Responses to "The First Line"

  1. Bret
    Bret on 16-03-’11 15:50

    Yes, the first three more so than the rest. And maybe the last one…I could see myself in the mood for a Lucas/Hitchcock mash-up, or a story inspired by one.

  2. Adam
    Adam on 25-04-’11 22:34

    Yes, when can I read more. I especially like the “…:Here there be monsters.” What can I do to help support/fund/encourage/quicken the first Miller novel?

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