Melanie Sherman attends a writers’ conference, and learns something about opening lines:
I chose a class taught by Lois Leveen called “Crafting Compelling Opening Lines.”
She made us write an opening line for a book which included a nurse, and a homeless man in a hospital setting. The opening line I came up with was so lame I wouldn’t even want to read it to my critique group:
The scraggly man lurched into the scrub room, blood gushing from his arm, and grabbed the nurse’s shoulder.
Actually, this might work, if you’re doing a story titled Scraggly Man.
I don’t write enough fiction to have anything resembling a strong opinion on these matters, but I follow two rules:
- No one is ever going to top “Call me Ishmael”;
- If someone sends in your opening line to the Bulwer-Lytton contest, you’re doing it wrong.
For the sake of argument, or the sake of lack of argument, here, once again, is the opening line to my most recent project:
Finding a glass bottle in the driveway was nothing particularly unusual, though it’s far more common to turn up a bottle made of plastic, typically reeking of the sort of cheap booze appreciated only by cheap boozehounds on foot.
It is, I think, remarkable only in the context of the universe for which it was written.