Thursday, January 20, 2011

New First lines and/or Paragraphs

by Susan Berger
Here are some new First lines for your reading pleasure.
Sometimes, for me, the first line doesn't cut it. In that case, since I know the book was sold to an editor, I use the first paragraph.

1. Fern Drudger knew her parents were dull. Ridiculously dull. Incredibly, tragically dull.

2. October 19th 1998 3:30PM
A dripping faucet.
Crumbs and a pink stain on the counter.
Half of a skin black banana that smells as old as it looks.
If I look at these things and at nothing else, concentrate on them and stay still, and don’t make any noise, this will be over soon and I can go home without Cameron’s dad ever knowing I’m here.

3. We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.

4. Crooked Creek Middle School Morning Announcement request Feb 2
Mr. Cooper Please announce that today’s scheduled meeting of the American Society of Fun Facts has been cancelled because the club’s president is stuck in In-School Suspension . (thanks a lot)

The School of Fear
The wilderness outside Farmington Massachusetts
(exact location withheld for security purposes)
Direct All correspondence to PO Box 333
Farmington, MA 01201
Dear Applicant,
I am pleased to inform you of your acceptance to the summer course at the School of Fear.

These next five are Cybil Finalists for mid grade fiction. I searched their list for books by first time authors. (Not easy.) There were more, but I only chose the ones where I could find the first line on Amazon.

6. I’d just been busted for giving the chimpanzees water balloons when I first heard something was wrong at Hippo River.

7. Fiona Finkelstein had a bad feeling. It was the kind of bad feeling she got when she just knew Mrs. Miltenberger has packed a corned beef sandwich in her lunchbox, even thought she’s told her a gazillion times that she HATES corned beef more than she HATES anything else. Especially after learning that there was actually no corn in it. If there was one thing Fiona flat-out could not stand, it was food that lies.

8. The first day of summer vacation is important because what you do that day sets the tone for the whole summer. That’s why my best friend Elliot Berger is coming over to watch the Daily Show episodes I’ve recorded. Mom and I used to watch them together. She always said that the host, Jon Stewart, stood up for the little guy, which is funny because Jon Stewart is a little guy-five feet seven inches. According to Wikipedia, the average height for men in the United States is five feet nine and a half inches. Let’s just say I can totally relate to Jon’s height issue.

9. You wake up and you’re fourteen. The world is your super sized soda waiting to be guzzled, right? Wrong. My birthday tasted more like Coke that went flat.

10. It’s a perfect night to run away, thought Fadi, casting a brooding look at the bright sheen of the moon through the cracked backseat window. It reminded him of the book From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler. (Interesting. This book by a first time author is nominated and it just broke a rule by mentioning another authors work in the first paragraph. Just shows you. Rules were made to be broken.)
The answers will be in my next post.

Happy reading and writing!

Here are links some older First Line posts

These lines came from Writers Day and were posted 5/2/10

Answers posted 5/31/10
There are the answers to
May 2nd post, posted 5/10/10 


  1. Love this post. Love a fantastic first line in general. It doesn't always mean I'm going to fall head over heels for the book, but it sure is a good start!

  2. I enjoy your first lines posts.
    J. Aday Kennedy
    The Differently-Abled Writer & Speaker
    Children's Author of Klutzy Kantor & Marta's Gargantuan Wings

  3. I <3 number three. Now that is a good opening line.

  4. Number 3 is one of my favorites too. :) I'm a believer in great first lines/paragraphs - don't we teach our kids to write a fantastic hook? Grab your reader! Love these posts for that reason. :)

  5. It's amazing how much can be accomplished in a really great first line(s)! And that M.T. Anderson one is a real favorite of mine! Thanks for sharing these, and for all of your participation in this year's Comment Challenge!

  6. I attended the school of fear, though it wasn't officially called The School of Fear. Wasn't a wilderness, just lots of girls I couldn't talk to.
    Mr. Most Unlikely

  7. Thanks Natalie and Lee. Did you notice Nathan Bransford has a first paragraph contest going?
    For those of you can't wait, number three is Feed by MT Anderson. It was his first book.


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