- The YAH girls gave me the first lines of their favorite books to evaluate.
- We're showing you the first lines of our very own works in progress.
- PLUS! Check the end of this post to see how you can win a first page crit and a signed book!
Part I: Favorite First Lines
Most successful first lines do one of two things: They make you ask a question you want answered, or they give you a taste of a voice you want to get to know. Embarrassingly, I have only read one of the books below, so my first reaction is exactly that: A first reaction based solely on the first sentence and the cover. What are your reactions? Tell us in the comments!
SOMETHING, MAYBE by Elizabeth Scott:
"Everyone has seen my mother naked."
Reaction: Um... why exactly?
Reaction: What kind of name is that? Plus, oh man, do I remember girls saying "go up her shirt," which suggests the voice will be legit and entertaining. (The title also makes me want to keep reading.)
Kristin Jr. suggests...
JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta:
"I’m dreaming of the boy in the tree and at the exact moment I’m about to hear the answer that I’ve been waiting for, the flashlights yank me out of what could have been one of those perfect moments of clarity people talk about for the rest of their lives."
Reaction: This is the one I've read, so it's a little harder to assess. But clearly we have two questions right off the bat: What was the dream boy about to say, and what is so important that it woke her? That "perfect moment of clarity" is something beautiful I identify with right away, too.
Kristin Sr. suggests...
ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by L.M. Montgomery:
"Mrs. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladies' eardrops and traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place; it was reputed to be an intricate, headlong brook in its earlier course through those woods, with dark secrets of pool and cascade; but by the time it reached Lynde's Hollow it was a quiet, well-conducted little stream, for not even a brook could run past Mrs. Rachel Lynde's door without die regard for decency and decorum; it probably was conscious that Mrs. Rachel was sitting at her window, keeping a sharp eye on everything that passed, from brooks and children up, and that if she noticed anything odd or our of place she would never rest until she had ferreted out the whys and wherefores thereof."
Reaction: I actually have Kristin's reaction for this one:
"People don't much write like this nowadays. It's a signature of her time (see also: Jane Austen) and I love it. I love the rhythm, I love the voice, I love the magic and the barely concealed humor. I can't wait to learn more about this ferocious woman and this fairy-town of Avonlea."
THE GOLDEN COMPASS by Philip Pullman:
"Lyra and her daemon moved through the darkening Hall, taking care to keep to one side, out of sight of the kitchen."
Reaction: Daemons and an unknown threat from the kitchen. Scary and mysterious.
THE SHIFTER by Janice Hardy:
"Stealing eggs is a lot harder than stealing the whole chicken."
Reaction: True enough-- and funny. It suggest the MC is spirited, which I like.
THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY by Douglas Adams:
"Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun."
Reaction: This isn't a fair answer, because I already know the meaning of life is 42 even though I've never read this book. "Unfashionable end of the Galaxy" is funny though.
Reaction: I can't do better than Michelle's description:
"...perhaps the greatest dystopian opening line ever."
DEAD AND ALIVE:
"Being dead rocks."
"Sean Ryan, the hottest guy in our entire Junior class, slapped down the box of extra large, ribbed for her pleasure condoms on the counter and winked at me."
Kristin D. Miller
"If they didn’t want me visiting the boys’ dorms after hours they shouldn’t have planted that oak tree under G-3’s window twenty years ago."
WILL AND ZOE:
THE FIX IT ALL SHOP:
"On the day Maddie Brown was born her mother took one look at the quiet, pink infant, turned her head to the side, and spit on the shoes of the nurse who had held Mrs. Brown’s hand through the birth."
"When Nita first told me the three laws of ghosts, she was making curried lentils and honey butter na'an."
"Her mother refused to cool things off because a cold front was coming soon, but Aubrey knew she had whipped up a small shower to keep her garden green."
"At this rooftop eruption of pop music and unlimited secret booze, I am a plus one."
"I stared at the clock on the wall for a second past what would be considered polite.
"I can't breathe."
Part Three: CONTEST TIME!
Would you like to win a first page crit from YA Highway authors Kirsten Hubbard, whose Like Mandarin will be published by Random House/Delacorte in Spring 2011, and Emilia Plater, for an authentic teen's point of view-- PLUS a signed copy of Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse by Kaleb Nation? First line: "Hanging outside the gates of the city of Dunce was a sign that read: 'No gnomes, no mages, etcetera.'"
To enter: Send us an email at yahighway at gmail dot com. Include your book title, first line, name and blog address (if applicable).YOU MUST USE "First Lines contest" (no quotes) as your subject line! Deadline for entries is Thursday, January 14 at 5:00 pm CST.
First lines posted in the comments WILL NOT BE ELIGIBLE. But we will be giving away a second prize to a random commenter! Get an extra entry if you blog about our contest (please provide a link in the comments) or Tweet about the contest (please include @yahighway in your tweet). Limit 3 entries per person, not counting first lines.
We will post the entries anonymously with this week's Field Trip Friday and open the voting!
ETA: Please note that first lines should be from your own works in progress, NOT a book you've read.
Also, if your first line is three words long or less, you may enter your first two sentences.