Sunday, September 15, 2013

Opening Lines to a Novel

Elmore Leonard wrote great opening lines ... first sentences that immediately drew the reader into the story.

literary fiction
Elmore Leonard

The Stacks compiled a chronological list of all of Leonard's opening lines. The list should be inspirational to every writer other than me. Not many have noticed, but I've already committed to all of the opening lines of my Steve Dancy series. Each tale begins with a single word. The Shopkeeper opened with "Two," and each succeeding novel opened with the next higher digit. The first sentence in my latest book in the series, Jenny's Revenge, reads "Six."

What happened to "One?" I've reserved it in case I decide to write a prequel about how Dancy decided to leave New York City for adventure on the American frontier.

This may not be a creative approach to opening lines, but it has one huge advantage. I can write the first sentence of each new novel without thought and tell myself that I've actually started the book. Once writing starts, the story keeps drawing me back to the keyboard.

Western fiction
Second or First in the Series?

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