Saturday, July 08, 2006


The first sentence of a novel and, especially, a short story is very important. Readers and editors may give a novel a few pages before deciding if they will continue onward with the book but a short story will probably get a paragraph or two. So the first sentence is the tale’s opening bid. I decided to look at first sentences from some of my published works to see what they told me. If anything.

“Follow me, sir. I’ll show you the way.”
--Rebel Nation (novel)

“Pay me.”
--The Inheritance (novel)

The spaceship sailed, corkscrewing, from the wormhole.
--To the Mountain of the Beast (novella)

“He’s coming, Crusader,” Fabiyan said.
--The Beast of Lyoness (short story)

Dave Barboza did his best to appear relaxed and confident.
--Human Resources (short story)

A half-day’s ride from the city of Daarmoor, as we traveled east along the old spice merchant trail, Kree and I first smelled the stench of the funeral pyres on the wind.
--In the Garden on the Far Shore of the Styx (short story)

As the first rays of sun pierced through the dark clouds like broken twisted fingers, the corporate helicopter skimmed along the Yucatan coastline nearing the construction camp.
--Costa de Mala Muetre (short story)

“Forget everything they told you at orientation,” Zane said, stopping beside the ivy-cloaked gate.
--Blood Alley (short story)

I have met Melinda.
--Melinda (short story)

I was already awake when Hondo tapped my cheek with her monkey fingers.
--Blood Hunt (short story)

As I spurred the Appaloosa along the valley trail, its hooves raised a gray-black specter of ash into the chilled air with each step.
--Sanctuary Defiled at Ananyas (short story)

My mother and stepfather passed away sometime Wednesday.
--Final Soulcatchers (short story)

The smell of blood tinged the cold night air.
--The Hunters (short story)

What did I learn here? A couple of the lines aren’t too bad, a couple could’ve been better and the others really don’t tell you much about the story. The intention of all were to get the reader (and/or editor) to read to next sentence. Did I succeed in that goal? I guess. All were published. Hmmm…
{Side note to self – do not use the image of sunlight as broken fingers again. You’ve used that in more than one story. End of side note to self.}

No comments: