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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

It was a dark and stormy night...

Most of us believe that it was Charlie Brown's dog, Snoopy, that first penned these words. Not true, my friends, not true.

Actually, that is the opening line written by English novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton in his 1830 novel Paul Clifford. 

I have to be honest, I've never read Paul Clifford. And until a few weeks ago, I would have given credit to Charles M. Schultz (the creator of Peanuts) for penning the words. And, of course, I would have been wrong!

So, what's my point?

A great opening line can really set the tone for the reader. Consider these:

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." (Dickens: A Tale of Two Cities)

"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul." (Nabokov: Lolita)

"It was a pleasure to burn." (Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451)

And, of course:

"Call me Ishmael." (Melville: Moby Dick)

Not all Opening are created equal

Sometimes a story just starts; no banging of drums or blaring of trumpets. The writer eases into their words - hopefully sucking the reader along. If he or she is good, you keep going. But at times even great writers lose their reader in the first chapter, the first paragraph, perhaps even the first line.

Think about this the next time you start a new novel. See how the writer draws you into their world; a world created just for the readers enjoyment. What is it that makes you keep going? The story? The characters? Or perhaps something about the setting?

As a writer I often ease into the story, letting the reader become comfortable with the pace and setting. I have used flashy first lines, but that's the exception not the rule for me. 

Let me draw you in, dear reader. Let me create a world, for you, that is so easy to believe, so real, that you can't put my book down.

I hope that's what I do, at least. I've received many wonderful reviews and comments on my three published novels (see below). 

Tell me about your favorite opening line (or chapter) in the comment section below! I'd love to hear what each of you has to say.

Until next week, check out one of those novels I've mentioned above. Perhaps even give Paul Clifford a chance; I know I might.

e a lake

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