Of course I had to attend. I felt so connected when I realized I had blogged many of the opening lines he mentioned.
Richard says he spends one day a week perusing the book stores looking for great openings. I've done that! But not once a week.
He gave us a ten point first impressions checklist: I emailed his agent, Linda Pratt, and asked if I could use it.
He said yes, so here goes:
1. Is the first sentence a line and a half long at the most?
2. Do we hear a young voice?
3. Is there a question?
4. Does it start with people, not place?
5. Is there color?
6. If it's not in first person, Why not? (I write in third. sigh.)
7. How are adult characters kept off the page and off the stage?
8. Where are the unnecessary twenty words? (Richard believes one always has twenty unnecessary words. I think he was referring to the page and not the whole book.)
9. Is there plenty of white space?
Is there a good reason to turn the page?
I plan to use this checklist every time I write a first line...except for the First Person one. I still like Third.
Richard Peck writes wonderful first lines. Here are three of my favorites.
You wouldn't think we'd have to leave Chicago to see a dead body.
My next post will be the lines Richard used as examples in his handout.