A WIP (work in progress) is a fragile thing. It is very much like a newborn baby, freshly caught in a midwife’s hands. It blinks up at the world in uncertain wonder while it silently begs to have a few smears of blood and slime wiped away.
Just like new parents who frantically count fingers and toes, novelists pay particular attention to the extremities: first lines. First scenes. Last lines.
The first line and first scene I shared with you last week has gone back to the garage for an overhaul (and please forgive me for switching metaphors!)
Anything that receives a less than spectacular response—or that doesn’t fill me with pleasure—needs to go back to the workshop. On a scale of 1-10, last week’s effort earned about a seven from me, so that’s not working. Off it goes . . . maybe not to the trash heap, but definitely not to the first page.
In any case, I asked some of my (more) brilliant friends for the first lines of their works-in-progress—unedited, slimy, newborns. I’m inspired just by reading them. ☺ Enjoy!
In the darkness, the covered bridge crouched over the creek like a giant cocoon. –From Anathema by Colleen Coble
By tradition, Saturday mornings were savored in the Clarkson household. –First line for: THE PERFECT LIFE (Thomas Nelson, spring 2008), by Robin Lee Hatcher
The muscles across Hannah’s shoulders ached as she continued driving toward a past she didn’t want to face. From When the Silence Whispers, by Cindy Woodsmall.
So high, houses smaller than her dollhouse, fields stretching out and away, a pond tossing sun rays skyward.—From The Edge of Recall, by Kristen Heitzmann
The Gulf of Maine lay easily beneath the mail boat’s keel, passing gentle swells below the vessel like a mother’s soothing stroke upon a baby’s back. This was misery to me. – Athol Dickson, Winter Haven, Spring, 2008
The morning sun had just cleared the summits to the east, so the grass in the small valley was still thick with dew, wetting the boots and the shins of the man and the boy. –From WIND RIVER, Tom Morrisey
A city in ruins, nine people dead and thirty dying, the bomber on the loose, and the best lead that Jason Logan could come up with was a nineteen-year-old punk named Michael Rondo. –From Darkening by Kathy Mackel.
Only the fog is real. –From Faces in the Sand, by Marlo Schalesky.
She wouldn’t have said anything if that endearing band of pink hadn’t showed above the top of his jeans as he leaned over the washer. –From Dancing in the Dark by Elizabeth White
Something about the lazy cadence of the Missouri River, so constant and wide and life sustaining, has always given me focus, even though it sometimes overflows its banks. –From Hallowed Halls, by Hannah Alexander.
Shouts from the edge of the forest shattered the afternoon quiet.
From The Captive Princess: The Story of Young Pocahontas, by Wendy Lawton.
I left him in tears. That’s right, tears. Even across the stage I could see his eyes puddling up and face turning white. –From The Skeptic, by Alton Gansky.
Kale wrinkled her nose at the dank air drifting up from the stone staircase. Below, utter darkness created a formidable barrier. –From DragonLight, by Donita Paul.
“Piper, don’t do it!” –From Our Space, by Sarah Ann Sumpolec.
The woman didn’t even look at me when she came to the door where the housekeeper had left me waiting. From Here Comes The Ride, by Lorena McCourtney.
The man appeared in the doorway of my studio unannounced, a brown paper package tucked under his arm. From Whispers of the Bayou, by Mindy Starns Clark.
Leviathan glided purposefully through the depths, chance rays of sunlight shimmering against his scales while throwing his vast shadow into the waters below. From Atlantis: Leviathan’s Hearth by Kacy Barnett-Gramckow.
Bea Abbot was desperate to escape from the paperwork on her desk, but an invitation to investigate a murder was not exactly the excuse she’d had in mind when she answered the phone. –From a murder mystery by Veronica Heley
My new and improved first line: The microcamera hidden in our officer’s glasses homes in on a poster of a long-necked blonde with wide eyes, a straight nose, high cheekbones, and an impish chin—the requisite parts of a face, all of which I am lacking. –from THE FACE, my WIP.
That’s it. Which is your favorite first line? Which demands that you read on?
~~Angie, whose favorite of all time is: “Ross Wakeman succeeded the first time he tried to kill himself, but not the second or the third.” –From Jodi Picoult’s SECOND GLANCE.