First Lines – Your Story Has To Start Someplace…

first linesCrippling pain may be the subject of the book, but it all had to start with one little ouch, somewhere in the first lines. When the functional process of writing becomes a basis of literature, the first lines only matter if they’re captivating and appealing to the right audience.

Your story may be a chronological litany of your life, but the first lines don’t have to be a reiteration of “I was born on a cold and stormy night…” Even written in first person, your

“A blatant, tawdry, and meaningless life began under the threat of a hurricane named Albert, and thus, I was named.” ~Albert Pence
story may begin with more conventional narrative, words chosen by their effortless flow, and gallant eloquence, profoundly manipulated into an active rope drawing your reader to the next line. Captivating. Raw. Appealing. Your words work together with the mind of the reader to stir emotion.

“A blatant, tawdry, and meaningless life began under the threat of a hurricane named Albert, and thus, I was named.” began the self-deprecating platitude of a physically challenged soldier who survived horrific explosions at war, to return home to a wife who had abandoned him, and what might have appeared to be a loveless existence. Yet, he was blessed with a talent for literary justice. Behind closed doors, where only his therapist dared to enter, he found an outlet. Furthermore, he gained the love of a generation of people who could identify with his platitudes. The biography he thought he was writing as an explanation for his intended demise, became a lifeline.

Did the opening line make a difference in the rest of his book?

I asked about his opening line, and when he wrote it:

The opening line was written about a quarter of the way through writing my book. I had struggled to come up with a way to introduce the book, after the Forward, and somewhere in the forth chapter, I realized I needed to ‘restart’ the first chapter. I needed an identity. And Hurricane Albert, whom I was actually named for, ripped the coast about three days before I was born. So this reveal seemed a natural starting point. The missing fact, that I wasn’t born anywhere near the coast seemed superfluous, so I didn’t mention it.

We talked about favorite first lines:

“It was a pleasure to burn.” Ray Bradbury

“There’s a guy like me in every state, in every federal prison in America, I guess — I’m the guy who can get it for you.” Steven King

“Having escaped one fire, I expected another.” Dean Koontz

“The first time you hit me was a shock, but not a surprise.” Lisa Hall

These were just a few of his favorite opening lines, and they came from a variety of genre. I noticed that he didn’t read just one genre, and all of his reading material wasn’t fiction. Some of it revealed an interest in building a business online, something he could run from his apartment.

Working with a writer for the first time sometimes means finding out who they really are in a proverbial nutshell. Other times, those revelations come from their ‘first lines’ because they give it all away. Introductions and getting to know writers with a manuscript is sometimes different than getting to know them as they start writing content.

Blogging can be far different than writing a book.

Putting on a coach or consultant hat and looking at the person more than just what they write, can build a longer lasting relationship and develop more of their skills.

Coaching isn’t always a process of putting them into the lineup for the game plan they believe they’re pursuing. More often, it’s a process of negotiating them through the process of finding out exactly what they want to pursue. Consequently, then guiding them into the right position.

When an author needs to fund his writing ventures, blogging, copywriting, or other writing endeavors may be a way to put them into position for writing their first book. Therefore setting up a marketing platform from which to sell that book. No author wants to arrive at publication without a platform. First lines matter, in every writing style. Because the faster you captivate an audience the more likely you are to market your writing efforts.

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