So the paragraph became the first sentence.
You now have one sentence to catch someone's - especially an agent's - attention. I've seen readers do that too, though. Open a book and read the first sentence and close the book and put it back on the books shelf. "Too boring." Really? Is that the length of our attention span??
So I thought it was funny when right about this time, Entertainment Weekly magazine added a feature to their book reviews: highlighting opening lines.
I wondered if that was the magazine's criteria now for picking a book to review. I mean, what if a book had a lousy first sentence? That wouldn't look good in the black break-out box, would it?
Well, apparently they ended up with a book they liked that didn't have a break-out-box-worthy first sentence, because now instead of first lines, they often highlight a "Memorable Line" instead.
For some reason, this makes me laugh hysterically every time I see it. Wow, that book must have a really lame first sentence for them to have to pick another sentence out of random!
But I digress.
The point is - well, I don't really have a point. Other than maybe to say I have favorite lines in my books too - and they aren't always my first line. I think some lines - the really great ones - have to be set up in some way. Given a context.
When I was writing Some Kind of Normal, I posted a few of my favorite lines as I'd write them:
I watch him trot down the halls, all legs and arms and purple fringe. I am ashamed that I wonder, if Ashley dies, will he be enough?
And then there was this one:
"Which one of you is the patient?"
“The one who looks like her arm is a helium balloon,” I say. I get a look for that. “Ashley Babcock.” I think of SAT week 5: acquiesce.
“And what is she here for?”
I point to her bloated arm and neck. “I’m afraid she got in Willy Wonka’s secret stash of gum last night and things went terribly wrong when it came to the cherry pie part.” Ashley giggles, but the nurse gives me a look to kill. Clearly there is no sense of humor in the ER.
Ha ha! I still laugh when I read that. I wrote in my blog post that I knew that last paragraph would end up being taken out by an editor, but it turns out my editor loved the line, and when a reader writes me to tell me what they loved about the book, 4 out of 5 times, they mention this line. I love that!
In the new book I'm now revising, my favorite line so far is this:
"She’d been cut out, from the time she was three, to be the girl guys wanted to have but not to keep."
So all of you readers and writers: do you have lines that have stuck out to you in books you've read? Are there lines you've written that you want to show up in that black box as EWs memorable line when they review your book someday?