Monday, 13 December 2010

First Line Meme

I recently read an interesting article about the importance of the first line of a book in getting you published. In the time honoured tradition of writers everywhere I immediately attempted two things; a) to relate the article to my own work and b) come up with something quick and easy to blog. So here is my solution... the first line of every book or short story I've ever written.
The old man had a shock of white hair pulled back from a broad forehead; startling eyes glittered in a severe high cheek-boned face. (1990)
Proof positive that you really do get better with practice.
The Doctor stood alone on a Devonian beach and tried to persuade the lungfish to return to the sea. (1992)
According to the old woman there had once been a leopard that fell into a trap. (1995)
An allegorical phase obviously
It should have been raining the day they put Roz into the ground, not bright and sunny under a blue sky. (1997)
It should have been a full stop after the word ground, not additional contrasting clauses which should have come later.
See that woman there. (2006)
When in doubt steal(1) - in this case from a Nobel prize winning author. I really have no shame.
They set a post-hound on Benny's trail on Tallyrand, slotted it to her biometrics and the colour of her hair. (2006)
More blatant theft; can you see who I'm stealing from here?
'Do I know you?' asked the man. (2006)

While she was waiting, the girl passed the time by counting the thermonuclear warheads as they went gliding by. (2007)
I think the second one sets the tone of the story well.
It started at one thirty on a cold Tuesday morning in January when Martin Turner, street performer and, in his own words, apprentice gigolo, tripped over a body in front of the West Portico of St Paul’s at Covent Garden. (2011)
Some people don't like long sentences.

(1) Did i say steal? I meant of course 'pay homage'.(2)
(2) Recursive theft - love it!

1 comment:

pbristow said...

Well, thankyou for solving the problem of what book I should start reading next... =:o}

"It should have been raining the day they put Roz into the ground, not bright and sunny under a blue sky. (1997)

It should have been a full stop after the word ground, not additional contrasting clauses which should have come later."

Don't knock it, it worked for me! =:o} That whole passage/chapter was begging me to perfom some attempt at a summation/evocation of it when I did my "Who Filked?" set back in 2001. That, and Benny's diary entry about the post-funeral visit by Kadiatu. To my mind, that opening passage starts with shell-shocked, analytical quietness, and through the fixation on the idea of rain, all the rage and grief come bubbling up to bellow accusation at the heavens: "There should have been pain, and confusion, and *DARKNESS*!". And then the rage it flares out, leaving just a quiet, lost, sadness: "But it was not raining..."

Alas, when I printed out the selected passages and timed them and added on the 4 minutes I thought need for the song I'd only written about a quarter of, the whole section came out to nearly 20 minutes! Since I only had an hour to summarise/reflect the entirety of Doctor Who from 1963 to the McGann era, including books, audios and Australian computer adverts, that particular segment had to be shelved. Shame. Miki Dennis has the perfect voice for reading Benny... =:o{

The set went well, though, even if the NAs had to represented by proxy, in the form of a short clip from The Shadow of the Scourge, which BF obligingly dropped on my doormat 2 days before the con. (Phew!) =:o} There was just too much good telly-based filk to include, not enough NAs-based. (Which is why I then wrote "Walking To Babylon", which - dammit! - it occurs to me Kate *still* hasn't heard...)