Saturday, October 31, 2009

I've just finished reading a post at http://fictiongroupie.blogspot.com/ , about the importance of the first lines of a book in order to get the potential reader/publisher/editor's attention.
The writer says that they are crucial, and gives examples of her own writing as to catching the reader's attention. If you wish to read more about it, go to the blog mentioned before and read the complete post.
In my arrogant opinion, [=)] first lines are important to get the reader involved, but they are not the main thing of the story. If they are re-written, they may lose part of their charm, which may lie on that first draft. So don't go crazy trying to think which sentences should somehow sum up the whole book, or at least mention very subtly what will happen at the end, after all, the best thing about writing is to see what becomes of your ideas when you start developing them!
She suggested that her followers should write the first lines they liked the most, the ones that had best caught their attentions immediately. Here are mine:

"It’s a funny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful.
Some parents go further. They become so blinded by adoration they manage to convince themselves their child has qualities of genius.
Well, there is nothing very wrong with all this. It’s the way of the world. It is only when the parents begin telling u s about the brilliance of their own revolting offspring, that we start shouting, “Bring us a basin! We’re going to be sick!”"
Matilda, Roald Dahl

Needless to say this got hold of my eyes immediately; I couldn't wait to see what was next. And Roald Dahl sorta mentions the main theme of the story, that being about Matilda's parent's hatred towards her. I just loved it! =)

"Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o'clock at night. It was remarked that the clock began to strike, and I began to cry, simultaneously.
In consideration of the day and hour of my birth, it was declared by the nurse, and by some sage women in the neighbourhood who had taken a lively interest in me several months before there was any possibility of our becoming personally acquainted, first, that I was destined to be unlucky in life; and secondly, that I was privileged to see ghosts and spirits; both these gifts inevitably attaching, as they believed, to all unlucky infants of either gender, born towards the small hours on a Friday night.
I need say nothing here, on the first head, because nothing can show better than my history whether that prediction was verified or falsified by the result. On the second branch of the question, I will only remark, that unless I ran through that part of my inheritance while I was still a baby, I have not come into it yet. But I do not at all complain of having been kept out of this property; and if anybody else should be in the present enjoyment of it, he is heartily welcome to keep it."
David Copperfield, Charles Dickens

I only have to say that this first three paragraphs made me smile as no other book had ever made me smile, and I think that they hold the best summary of Dickens' magic, which we two love. It contains irony, witty comments, and also provides evidence of what will happen at the end... It is great.

"SQUIRE TRELAWNEY, Dr. Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 17__ and go back to the time when my father kept the Admiral Benbow inn and the brown old seaman with the sabre cut first took up his lodging under our roof." Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson.

This extract made me smile too. It is witty, intelligent and it gives subtle, and not so subtle, clues about what will happen. I particularly chose it because of its originality on introducing the story.

So what are your favourite first lines of books? Do you think they are so important?

2 comments:

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

Great first line selections! Once again, thanks for the link. :)

Jody Hedlund said...

Thanks for swinging by my blog today! I'd love to follow you back, but I wasn't sure which is your primary blog. You have three listed--is one more specifically geared toward writing/reading/the arts, ect.? Just let me know! Thank you!