Monday, September 30, 2013

Really Bad Opening Lines to Novels

A couple weeks ago I posted an article about Elmore Leonard's great opening lines. I also mentioned that my Steve Dancy Tales opening line uncreatively designated the book's sequence in the series. 

All opening lines, however, are not great. In fact, most are humdrum. So much emphasis has been placed on opening lines that authors agonize over their first sentences. Actually, there's much more to be nervous about. Authors actually have 50-100 words to capture the reader's attention. Instead of tormenting themselves over a mere sentence, writers can fear two or three paragraphs. That's plenty of opportunity to drive an author completely around the bend. 

Thought Catalog has published 33 Of The Most Hilariously Terrible First Sentences In Literature History. Most of these are truly terrible, but a few appear so bad I can't help but wonder if they were meant to be tongue-in-cheek. Maybe not. One lesson to take away from these examples is to never appear writerly. Trying too hard often strings words together that jolt the consciousness. Sometimes that is a good thing, but some words and phrases should remain quarantined for eternity.

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Opening Lines to a Novel

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