You know it's going to be an interesting morning when the first person who walks through the door of your brand new downtown office is a 350-pound man named Precious.

People sometimes ask, "How do you write a whole book?"

My answer? One word at a time. It's the only way.

And so private investigator Nicholas Colt begins a new adventure. I don't outline, so I'm not exactly sure how it's going to go. See, that way it's an adventure for me as well.

Let's hear some of your favorite first lines from books published in 2008-2009. Or, from your own works in progress.

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I'm not a writer but I agree about killer first lines. its gotta be a killer whole page if its gonna catch me. For example Diane Setterfield's first page(s) of 'The Thirteenth Tale' I had a hard time trying to decide if I wanted to *read* the book or listen to it on MP3. I wound up listening, but I still think I missed something by not reading and savoring the visual word... they just aint the same thing. Ditto Kate Atkinson's 'When Will There Be Good News?'

I started paying attention to first lines only after online chat groups called my attention to them. Previously if left to my own devices I'd stand in a bookstore and read the first 3 pages. If I wanted to go on from there I'd buy the book. Nowadays its gotta be a killer exerpt on line via author's webpage, Amazon first pages, Audible sample.

Having said that I've been feeling burned by authors that write a great first half of a book but just can't seem to complete a decent ending. They get all these balls in the air and them wind up with 'then I shot him'. Maybe the discussion should be great endings - except that'd be HUGE spoilers, LOL! But we all know Maltese Falcon, I the Jury, 10 Little Indians (or whatever title incarnation you prefer) all had great endings. Can you even remember the ending of 'Last Good Kiss'? Apart from the first line I can't recall a dang thing about the book.
Oh, man, I am SO with you on the great first half thing. I'm also with I.J. on the overblown importance of the first line. Every best-seller you open these days seems to start with the dreaded one-line paragraph, in a more and more thinly veiled attempt to 'hook the reader.' Frankly, I'm starting to feel downright offended by it. I'm not a fish, for cryin' out loud; enough with the hooking, just tell me a great story.

"There's no accounting for laws."

I LOVE that line. Makes me wonder right away what provoked the comment.

The first line Crumley is Justifiably famous for is from THE LAST GOOD KISS: "When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon."

My personal favorite is from Declan Hughes's THE WRONG KIND OF BLOOD: "On the night of my mother's funeral, Linda Dawson cried on my shoulder, put her tongue in my mouth, and asked me to find her husband."

The first line from my WIP? "I wore my good suit, the one that fit me whan I wasn't wearing a gun."
I like all those, Dana, including yours. I might change "wearing" to "carrying," though, to avoid repetition of the verb.
You're absolutely right about "wearing." Thanks.
Yes, "I carried my good suit so it wouldn't interfere with my gun hand." is much better. *G*
I agree it's a good line. Just not the kind of bowl-you-over, "killer" line some people might cite as a perfect first line.

"Call me Ishmael." I like that one, too, and it's simple as all get-out.
What a killer opening line is is a hook, and a hook can be misleading if the hooks don't keep on coming. Here's what literary agent Noah Lukeman had to say about hooks in his book, The First Five Pages: "What is rarely discussed is the importance of the hook not only as an opening line, but as an opening paragraph ... as an opening page ... as an opening chapter. In other words, the same intensity of thought applied to the opening line should not be confined to the opening line--a common malady--but rather applied to the text in its entirety."
MONEY SHOT was definitely one of the best books of last year for me.
'The stuffed haddock on the dashboard nodded her head at me as we hit another pothole.' Note that the haddock is female. It's likely a clue.
There's something fishy going on, that's for sure.
I dislike clever first lines. Too in-your-face "See how good I am?" I also dislike clever titles, and titles that are alliterations or puns. Same reason.

But I guess a lot of readers are impressed.


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