Tuesday, November 02, 2010

CSFF Blog Tour: "The Skin Map" Day Two

Remember how yesterday, I said that I figured I'd have no problem reading The Skin Map by Stephen Lawhead in four days? I knew I'd have no problem almost right away. That's because the first paragraph so grabbed me that I knew I had to keep reading.

Here it is:

Had he but known that before the day was over he would discover the hidden dimensions of the universe, Kit might have been better prepared. At least, he would have brought an umbrella.

I know, right? I laughed with sheer delight at the simplicity and, on one level, absurdity of that statement. An umbrella? Really? What does that have to do with the hidden dimensions of the universe. It raised just enough questions that I knew I had to keep reading.

That, I think, is the key to writing a great book. An author has to grab his or her reader by the end of the first page and compel them to keep reading. It's even better if he or she can do it by the end of the first paragraph. Or even the first line. Lawhead's book is a great example of this.

Just bringing this up sent me back to my bookshelf to look for other great first lines in other books. And I found a few.

This is from The Dark Glory War by Michael A. Stackpole:

The day they gave me my mask was the first day I felt truly alive.

Brings up a great question, doesn't it? Why is the main character receiving a mask? Why does it have such a profound effect on him? It's that sentence that brings us into a great adventure, one in which masks play a large part.

Here's the first paragraph from the best-selling book, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins:

When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim's warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping.

Already we know that something bad is going to happen, something connected to the ominous sounding "reaping." Thus enticed, we continue into a gripping adventure.

Here's another one, this time from within the realm of Christian fiction, namely Rooms by James L. Rubart:

Why would a man he never knew build him a home on one of the most spectacular beaches on the West Coast?
An excellent question, one that encapsulates the story. We wonder the same thing and that keeps us reading as Micah Taylor tries to answer that question.

So is it absolutely necessary to have a killer opening line? Not necessarily. I was surprised at how long it took me to find these three examples. But it certainly doesn't hurt. I mean, a great opening paragraph made me want to read a book in four days. That, I would say, can be counted as a success.

How about you, fair readers? Know of any killer opening lines/paragraphs?

Be sure to check out what the other tourists have to say:

Red Bissell
Thomas Clayton Booher
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Morgan L. Busse
Jeff Chapman
Christian Fiction Book Reviews
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
George Duncan
April Erwin
Tori Greene
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Shannon McDermott
Allen McGraw
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Gavin Patchett
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
Kathleen Smith
Rachel Starr Thomson
Donna Swanson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White
Elizabeth Williams
Dave Wilson

1 comment:

Fantasythyme said...

Nice opening line comparisons. The umbrella line hooked me too. Good contrast.