The First Line

SONY DSCSince our theme this month is Firsts, I thought I’d write about first lines of books. To me, the first line of a story is like meeting you, the reader, for the very first time. More often than not you will have read the back matter, which may have been written by me, someone else, or a group of marketing professionals. You might have admired the cover, and that tempted you. Covers aren’t usually made by the author, but by a graphic artist. Whatever way it happens, the first line of the story is the first building block for your reading relationship with me, the author. It’s when things get real.

It’s essential that the first line makes you want to keep reading. It needs to spark your curiosity. With any luck, the first line will make you think, OMG! Who? What? Where? Why? I have to know! And you keep reading, turning those pages until the very end.

This holds true whether an author writes historical, inspirational, rom coms, or time travels. The first line should fit the world the author has created and capture the tone of their work.

I write contemporary romance with romantic suspense elements, and I admit to being surprised when I typed the first lines from my series together. They really do fit the tone of my books. Here they are:

Winning this might keep him alive. – Slide Job

Death lingered quietly in the dark, dressed in worn blue jeans. – Beyond the Winner’s Circle

Would he die today, or tomorrow? – Running Three Wide

I would be remiss at this point if I didn’t add the first lines from some of my favorite reads. Here they are in no particular order:

Most people don’t stare at the scars. – Burnt Offerings, Laurell K. Hamilton

Caught in the crosshairs of wind above the Bitterroots, the jump ship fought to find its stream. – Chasing Fire, Nora Roberts

They had betrayed her with a promise of the sea. – My Heart Stood Still, Lynn Kurland

Although in different genres, each first line is tempting. I can’t wait to dig in and find out the rest of the story.

What about you? Do you have a favorite first line?

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

Unforgettable First Dates

Bandaid

Conflict is one of the things that makes a novel worth reading. So first dates in romance novels usually end up being messy and complicated. The encounters are typically full of trouble, while somehow affirming that the couple is meant to be together despite all obstacles. In Canyon Walls, my characters’ first date involves star gazing–surrounded by a camp full of teenagers.

On one of my own first dates, my date was driving me to dinner when I reached under the seat of his truck and instead of moving the seat back, I sliced my finger open on a piece of metal. It was one of those crazy wounds that wouldn’t stop bleeding.

I was mortified.

My date drove down the interstate as I searched for a fast-food napkin or anything I could put on my finger to stop the bleeding. Before I knew what was happening, my good-looking date had pulled up his dress shirt, held out the bottom of his white undershirt, and stuck my bleeding finger in it. It was incredibly sweet, but it wasn’t the first impression I’d hoped to make.

He exited the highway, changed out of his undershirt and into his dress shirt, and left me in the truck as he went into a store. He bought me a box of bandages and antibacterial cream. The gesture was far more romantic than flowers.

I still have a scar–right beside the finger where I wear the wedding ring he gave me. It’s a daily reminder of our wonderful and never-boring romance.

The secret of a great first date isn’t about the right restaurant or the most romantic location; it’s about sharing it with the right person.

What was your most memorable first date?

About Julie Jarnagin

Julie Jarnagin is a multi-published author of inspirational romance. She grew up in a small Oklahoma town where her family farmed and ranched. These days she lives in a not-so-big city with her amazing husband and young son who tolerate all her nerdy quirks. Julie earned a B.A. in Journalism / Professional Writing from the University of Oklahoma and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. www.JulieJarnagin.com

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