First Lines

"It was a dark and stormy night."
“It was a dark and stormy night.”

On impulse, I decided to take a fresh look at the opening lines of my books as a means to see if my writing has improved. Here’s what I came up with.

Book 1. “Charlie hated mornings, due, in no small part, to his having the sleep habits of a caffeine-addicted owl.” (Okay.)

Book 2. “Charlie sat in a long boat on a calm lagoon, wishing Robin would sit still for once.” (Yawn.)

Book 3. Charlie lay in the thick brush, trying not to breathe. (That’s turrible.)

Book 4.  “A bloody Rembrandt, this guy, God.” (Okay, now we’re getting there.)

Book 5. “The People have been walking for weeks.” (That’s not bad.)

Book 6. “I’d been driving all day, sucking in western Oklahoma road dust, and I wasn’t in the mood for any more damned mysteries. ” (Suddenly, I’m learning to write.)

Book 7. ” It was February before I realized she had begun to unravel the stitching from my life.” (Mucho likeo.)

The moral of this story is that weak beginnings lead to weak middles and endings. My first three books improved as they progressed, but they needed to start stronger. I’m in the process of rewriting the entire trilogy, mainly for that reason. They will not start with the word “Charlie.”

I’m happy with the last two. I guess that’s a sign that I’ve progressed or at least changed.

7 thoughts on “First Lines

  1. y. prior says:

    well be careful before you change too much – because I happen to LOVE the book 3 – and book 1 – a lot! And later on – when I have the time -= because I truly do not have it right now – but a few of your books are on my list to get and read.

    anyhow, as you noted – you may just have changed a lot since then while you were still great writer back then – just a different writer – so be very careful before you go in and put today’s hue on yesterday’s tone – sometimes this is huge improvement – but other times we lose the essence of the created piece.


    1. Bill Jones, Jr. says:

      Thanks a lot for the advice and the kind words; Maria pretty much gave me the same counsel. I guess it’s hard to recognize that different isn’t necessarily better. I think had I been writing the books now, they’d be dark and more lyrical. But you’re right; that might not be what the stories need.

      The 1st 3 books are fun and silly. I’ll just focus on making them tighter. Thanks again.

  2. Arkenaten says:

    As it happens I went through this process a while back, after reading similar advice on a list of ”do’s” from an agent, and felt better for it too.

    And then….I looked at the opening paragraph of several ”Best Sellers” and other books by established authors and in several instances my first response was Huh?

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