Category Archives: #FirstLineFriday

The trouble with first lines 

There’s so damn much pressure to have it be perfect. Even more so, perhaps, than just about every other piece of your book. And it isn’t that I disagree with this sentiment – not exactly. While I don’t know if any one spot of a novel is more important than another, I know that if I don’t hook my readers, they’ll put the book down and not pick it up again. 

But is it so extraordinarily important that I am agonizing over one damned sentence? Not the scene. Not the chapter. Not even the paragraph. 

One stupid sentence. 

Do you have this same issue, or is it just me? I still haven’t nailed mine down, though I’m working on it. 

(yes, by working on it I mean anything but…)

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What’s your first line?

I love #FirstLineFridays. I love being introduced to your stories, being sucked in with just that one sentence. And yes, we all know there are some that are more memorable than others. I previously shared my favorite first line, and that sentiment hasn’t changed.

I love Jane Eyre. And that first line is forever a standard I cannot live up to. *sigh*

Here is what I have so far:

From an early age, I considered myself an above-average observer.

Exactly. It’s… lackluster. Boring.

I am currently reading the Stormy Day box set. First of all, I highly recommend this. It’s currently on sale, too. Second, here’s the first line of book one:

The hand-painted snowman on the vase kept his coal-black eyes trained on me.

OK. Perhaps that is only marginally better than mine. And by marginally, I likely mean leaps and bounds.

What about A Baron for Becky, by Jude Knight? (As an aside, I will be hosting a book club for Jude, featuring this specific book. August 6. The book is only $.99 right now, and I would love, love, love for you to join me. Just let me know you’re interested!)

In the nursery, the two little girls waited, sombre in their mourning blacks.

Oooh… much better. Not exactly delightful because we have children in mourning, but still… it’s lovely. And I think it really does what the opening sentence is supposed to do – it draws you in, hooks you. It begs the question: why are these girls mourning? Whom are they mourning?

Mine does not do that. It needs work. Lots and lots of work. But I’m still in the planning stages – and finding planner heaven with my bullet journal! (There’s a group on FB, you know…)

Share with me – what are some opening lines from what you are currently reading?

Oh, and I’d love to share this with you. I doubt they are all first lines, but they are beautiful all the same.

31 Most Beautiful Sentences – a link. click it. I dare you.

I especially love this one –

I was as unburdened as a piece of dandelion fluff, and he was the wind that stirred me about the world.

 

What a Ride!

Is it seriously Friday already? Well, color me flummoxed.

So, I have two things to share with you today in honor of both #FirstLineFriday and #FiveLineFriday.

First of all, if I have not mentioned it (checking…) Nope, I told you here, just yesterday in fact. We have ditched the Regency in favor of the Victorian era. Sarah has decided it’s not a romance, although that will be a subplot…

Anyway, the changes that sneaky little Diva wrestled out of me mean that I can return to the world of Olivia – Bluefell. I am quite excited, to be honest. Something I’ve not been for my romance writings in a while. I was, in fact, on the verge of giving up.

So, in Olivia, the queen is broken, caged – and a usurper has taken over. But how did we get there? Well… The Clockwork Queen will address that. Here is the first line –

Young Victoria stood naked before the long Cheval mirror, Albert’s fingers entwining through the dark curls tumbling over her pale flesh.

Yes. Queen Victoria. And mirrors. And someone who stole her Throne.

But Olivia, she is not Snow. No, she is Cinderella. And it isn’t time for The Clockwork Queen. Not yet. So, the precursors to Olivia, they are all Cinderella’s. And here, for #FiveLineFriday, is how Sarah starts her tale.

“I want the girl wed and bed by Tuesday next, Mycroft, and I do not care about the particulars of the event.” Lady Rickings spoke to her son, command carrying clearly to Sarah, three rooms over, dusting the bric-a-brac of the formal morning room.

Mycroft, the oiliest snake Sarah had the misfortune to have ever met, mumbled something in response. Sarah lifted a brow; he never could enunciate his words. It was an endless frustration as she was supposed to interpret his slurred bits into something comprehensible.

“I do not care if she is not to your liking. That foolish brother of mine left that horrid girl everything.” Lady Rickings paused, and Sarah thought the conversation was at an end, but she quickly forged ahead. “Do you understand what that means? Everything.”

More mumbling from the snake, though Sarah was certain she heard a grumble about her tongue. She chuckled.

“Yes, exactly. Wed her, bed her, and dispose of her by Christmas. There’s a good darling.”

OK. I admit. It’s more than five lines. How about #FiveParagraphFriday? Yes, we shall go with that. Thank you for your consideration. No, I am not entirely sold on Mycroft. But, he is not connected to our Victorian darling, Holmes, and I will have to see if it was a name much in use at the time.

I am still planning on attempting NaNoWriMo this year, with this particular story, in fact. And I am going to try to plan the shit out of it, to be honest. Will I see you there?

Not There Yet

No, not quite yet. It has been 9 days since we said good-bye. Nine days too many. I find myself uninterested in much of anything. Even food, and I’m a fat girl who likes to eat. I do eat, by the way, but nothing tastes good. Nothing even sounds good.

My step-mom said we just have to Fake It Till We Make it. I try, but it’s too damned hard. I know this isn’t what my father would want. He was so full of life and love. I know I should do better in his memory, but I cannot.

I’m not there yet.

I am, however, writing. Just a smidge. It’s hard. I love writing, but all the joy is gone from it.

Truth be told, the joy is gone from everything. I hope the pain recedes soon. We will bury his ashes next week. Maybe then I can forge ahead.

Until then, I write and pretend it is as joyful today as it was before getting the call. I also pretend it means anything.

All that aside, I do intend to get back to more regular writing. It’s just… I’m not there yet. I appreciate your understanding.

I do, however, have some words to share since it is, once again, #FirstLineFriday and #FiveLineFriday

Stratford Clarion noticed the air of uncertainty hanging over the men in the dining area of White’s the moment he stepped into the room. The already weak sun was obscured further by shuttered windows and hazy clouds of smoke, for which he was grateful. The stirrings of a hangover clawed at his temples, setting his mood to match that of the others present.

Winding his way through the smoke-filled room, he picked up bits of the conversation. No one would meet his eye, but that was nothing new.

Music As Muse

I bet I have addressed this before, so forgive me in advance if it’s a rinse cycle for you.

We all (most) know that music is an important part of the creative process. For some, it is only the doorway leading to the creative process. These people might get an idea from the music, but their actual creating occurs within dead silence.

The very thought gives me the shudders.

For me, music is there every step of the way. Songs inspire scenes, whether just one scene or the theme of the entire novel. Music is on as I write, as I plot, as I think.

The only time music is not part of my creative process is when I am sleeping. I need absolute darkness and complete silence to sleep. And yes, I am creating even in my sleep. The notepad on my phone is full of midnight and 3 am scribbles.

But right now, I am struggling with my writing and it led me to wonder, do I have enough of the right music for my writing?

See, I have always been able to blaze through my writing regardless of the music in the background. Not so this project.

Now, I am not blaming the music. Absolutely not. It is a number of things – depression, anxiety, characters and plot that will not cooperate.

Still, I briefly considered blaming the music – the words don’t work because I don’t have the right music. Not so, laura – stop placing blame where it does not belong.

I mean, this blog post wrote itself just fine after all, did it not?

For me, the lesson was clear –
stop trying to force an idea just because it seemed cute. Especially when the characters are dragging their heels, kicking and screaming every step of the way.

I know. I’ve heard it before – you have to see it through. Why? Why make myself miserable spinning in circles? I just can’t do that.

So, Sarah and Stratford are getting what they want – a new story, a second chance. Literally and figuratively. One that, hopefully, better fits them.

The good news here:
A) The available time frame expands as I am no longer bound by the Regency. In fact, my friend and I just discussed this – Regency is overdone. I love, love, love to read it but I don’t necessarily like to write it.
2.) Despite the plot changes and time changes, quite a bit of my existing work is salvageable and can be used in the new story line. Clearly, my mind knew what was going on before I did.

It is Friday. Here’s my First Line. It actually came to me as I was creating the 7 beats. How odd. It is clearly not one sentence. That’s OK.

“Westerfell.” Richard’s clipped greeting hit her ears seconds before his possessive hand curled about the small of her back. The world disappeared around her. This man – this was Rupert’s heir.

Bloody hell.

Now, I bid you adieu. With a question, of course: How do you mix music with your writing?

Where Olivia Receives an Invitation

Because I have no clue what I’m actually doing, I like to just start winging it with my writing. Which almost always leads to a brick wall. So then I go back and start looking at the structure, the bones. This isn’t a horrible thing – at least for me. There’s nothing I love more than that free writing. Nothing.

And it gives me a chance to get to know my characters better than all the questionnaire’s do.

I’m an odd duck like that.

Anyway. Here is another bit I cut out of my current project (still without title):

Several hours later, Olivia paced the length of her room, a slip of creamy vellum clutched in her hand. The scratches of red made no sense to her, despite being able to read in her dreams. Frustration coursed through her. She wanted to know if this was the invitation she so desperately wanted – needed – it to be.

A sense of euphoria shot through her slight frame at the possibility. I smiled as her excitement jolted through me, and I had not smiled in such a long time. But what else could possibly have been written in that note except an invitation? Her acceptance was a given after all, was it not?

Olivia stopped pacing just long enough to give a short tug on the bell rope hanging next to her bed. She needed Rebecca, her maid, to read the note to her. Sweet, naive Olivia never even questioned if she could trust the one in whom she confided so much.

Now, Olivia’s birth falls toward the end of spring in the month of May but the year of her twenty-first birthday was a cold one. Winter still held the Empire firmly in her icy grasp, though Spring was starting to stake a claim. Most of the snow had melted, revealing a new growth of green grass. Small buds graced the trees, some of which had even started flowering.

A chill hung in the air, yet sweat dripped into Olivia’s eyes. More deliciously wicked curses flew from her lips as she named herself a fool for closing the windows again once Mrs. Jackson left. The room was too hot, stifling.

Olivia raced to open a lone window on each wall. She gave the bell pull another sharp tug as she passed it.  Moments later, she gave it a third tug, this one slightly sharper than the one before.

Brittle winds swept through the open window casements, tangling the skirts of Olivia’s dressing gown around bare ankles. She threw herself onto the bed, giving one last, frantic pull at the rope. Where is that damned maid, she wondered.

Also, it’s #FirstLineFriday, so here’s that (with added bonus of the next sentence):

But Olivia needed encouragement and support, not the crippling doubt that comes from being an object of pity. Doubt slithers in, undermines everything until one is not sure if up is backward or left is forward.

The Snick of the Bolt

It’s #FirstLineFriday over here. Today, I am doing things different. Instead of spending hours (OK, minutes) agonizing over the perfect line, I went with the first thing that popped into my head.

Why? Well… This was an odd bit to write –  I had already created the end of the scene, which I discussed yesterday. I even had the start of the scene – a good 4 or 5 paragraphs. I didn’t need that perfect opening.

Instead, I needed that one sentence which would lead to the following sentences. One with which I could cleanly meld the beginning and end I already had. For a change, it wasn’t even hard. I reviewed the beginning and it just came to me:

“And why would Lord McGillicuddy, disgusting though he may be, follow you? Certainly not because you are acceptable company.” Duncan walked to the room’s small desk and picked up a stack of papers.

Not only did this one line lead me to a seamless integration of the beginning and the end, but it peeled back another layer of Duncan’s character. If I were to hop in the way back machine, I would see that in his original incarnation, Duncan worked for the Crown. That got lost somewhere along the way, but guess what? Found it!

I originally chose 1816 because it’s known as the Year With No Summer. I love the idea of a year long chill. But, if I want to keep it a truly historical romance, then I cannot ignore the effect Napoleon had on Britain.

Next, let’s talk villains…