Tag: first lines

Extra-special near pathological attention… to first and last lines….

Tracee: I’m given a bit of time this week to the importance first lines and pages in a manuscript.  Do you work on these with special attention? Well, not special, but extra-special near pathological attention?  Robin: If by “extra-special near pathological level” you mean “agonize day and night then second-guess myself to this very day,” yes. The first page is the most rewritten part of any manuscript for me. Runner up is the rest of the first chapter. I may revise the entire book 4 – 5 times, but I typically revise the first chapter 5 – 10 times. I literally pace like a caged animal while mulling over, writing, and rewriting the first sentence. Once I hit on a “grabber,” I’ll stick with it til I can picture it on my tombstone then I make sure the rest of the chapter measures up. Susan: I’m definitely in the pathological-attention- to-first- paragraph camp. However, the flip side of that is that once I’m happy with my first paragraph, I’m generally happy with the book. Or as happy as anyone ever is with anything. I can then move forward and enjoy myself. Although occasionally I’ll be reading someone else’s book and want to […]

Read More

First lines.

I didn’t grow up in the tradition of memorizing great swaths of poetry or prose (this is an entire subject of great regret) so it means something when I can quote a first line without pulling out the book. Think about this. It is one line. The first line. The one read before all the others on hundreds of pages, and yet it sticks in the mind. For example – Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were. (Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind) The small boys came early to the hanging. (Ken Follett, The Pillars of the Earth) The last camel collapsed at noon. (Ken Follett, The Key to Rebecca) The gale tore at him and he felt its bite deep within and he knew that if they did not make landfall in three days they would all be dead. (James Clavell, Shogun) Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. (Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina) More recently – Lydia is dead. They they don’t know this yet. (Celeste Ng, Everything I Never Told You) The snow in the mountains was melting […]

Read More

Search By Tags