That's right, I'm pondering about openings. Now, before you start smirking and tittering, this isn't going to be smutty. In fact, I'm surprising myself by blogging about something that isn't insane, smutty, or random for the second day in a row. (Actually, there might be a teensy bit of smut in here somewhere, but.... well you'll see why in a bit).
The openings that are consuming my thoughts at the moment are from books. That killer first line, those magical first words that essentially need to hook readers by the navel and keep them interested. Some opening lines are probably as famous as the books from which they are taken.
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." - I probably don't need to tell you which book this is taken from, though for the sake of sakeness, I will inform you that it is from, of course, Austen's Pride and Prejudice. This is probably my favorite opening line ever. It's just perfect. It sets the tone for the novel beautifully, and lets you know right away that there's going to be a wealthy man as a main character who will end up married by the end of the novel, whether he likes it or not. Just perfect.
Then we have good old "Mr and Mrs Dursely, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." Rowling's first line from her immensely popular Harry Potter series is again a very good example, in my humble opinion. Right away you get a sense of the Dursleys' characters, plus a hint that things that might not be deemed as 'normal'' were going to happen pretty soon.
Now, with the above two examples firmly etched in my memory, I started wondering about other (book) openings too. Is there a common theme at all? Should the line be short and snappy, or a little long? Do we aim for humor, drama, or gore? Of course, it really all depends on the genre of the book. With this partly formed conclusion in my brain, I decided to have a look at a few books.
The first book I'm going to use as an example is The Girlfriend Curse by Valerie Frankel. This is from the chick-lit genre, which I'm currently overdosing on due to my NaNo novel. The opening line reads: "Peg Silver, thirty-two, could make a man come, but she couldn't make him stay." Personally, I thought this was a very snort-worthy opening line, and I knew immediately what the tone of the novel would be. I finished the book this morning, and wasn't disappointed. Well, when I say I wasn't disapponted, I really meant that I was right in my assumption that the tone of the novel would be a little bit naughty, laced with several layers of smut. The story itself was nothing to write home about, but I liked the style of the author all the same. Very funny.
The next book I'm planning to read (I had a very successful trip to the library yesterday) is Schindler's Ark by Thomas Keneally. I thought the movie adaptation was very good, and I've always had an interest in the Holocaust (call me morbid if you will, but it's always fascinated me), so when I saw this book, I grabbed it quickly before somebody else could 'steal' it from me (can't tell you how many times that's happened in my local library, grrr). Opening line as follows: (Oh My Lordy, it's not a line, it's a freaking paragraph!) "In Poland's deepest autumn, a tall young man in an expensive overcoat, double-breasted dinner jacket beneath it an - in the lapel of the dinner jacket - a large ornamental gold-on-black enamel swastika, emerged from a fashionable apartment block in Straszewskiego Street on the edge of the ancient centre of Cracow, and saw his chauffeur waiting with fuming breath by the open door of an enormous and, even in this blackened world, lustrous Adler limousine." Having never read the book before, I don't know if the style will continue to be as (long-winded) descriptive as this, but even that small paragraph (which took me ages to type, by the way) does what it is supposed to. You get a sense of gloom right away, and even poverty. You also know immediately that the main character is rich and privileged.
What am I blogging about? To be honest, I'm not quite sure, I just found this subject interesting, and was merely using my blog to share my wandering thoughts. I guess what I really want to know is, what makes a good first line? Should we even be worrying about it? I mean, most people read the back of a book before they delve inside, so is the first line really as important as everybody seems to think so?
I'll continue to ponder this conundrum, but in the meantime, what do YOU think?