Call me Ishmael.
No, please don’t.
The first line always deserves extraordinary consideration from the writer — or, in the case of plays and screenplays, the first visual. I once opened a one-act with a “chicken” crossing the stage, only to get hit by a car immediately upon exiting. It’s good to make an impression.
I’ve now launched two e-book series. Let’s take a look at the first lines of both first books and see how they fit with the series blurb.
The blurb: There are no aliens, but the universe is full of people. Other Earths are out there. Unique individuals populate them all, making unique decisions that lead to unique civilizations. Amena Wharry wants to visit each one. She has no idea what she’s getting into. She can’t wait to find out.
The opening line: The forest was just like any old forest, until an archer in a spacesuit appeared.
My thoughts: People make any place. These Earths would be nearly identical if not for the different people inhabiting them, and those people are what make them interesting to explore. But what if there’s an Earth that no longer has native humanity? We get to experience such an Earth in the second novella (also part of the first volume), which opens with the line, “The world was going to explode in ninety minutes.” It’s not a pleasant place.
The blurb: Opening yourself up to a whole new world can leave you vulnerable — but it’s the only way to grow. That’s what Rip Cooper has to do when he learns he can perceive ghosts with his five senses as if they were flesh and blood people, and he’s just as solid to them — in fact, the only solid thing to them. This young loner has to overcome his fears and kill dead people to prevent them from corrupting the living. He works alongside an impure angel and his ex-best friend’s ex-girlfriend as they teach him how love can conquer fear.
The opening line: Rip Cooper never forgot the haunted house in which he spent his early childhood, though no one else seemed to notice its condition.
My thoughts: Rip sees what other people don’t, and what he sees isn’t always wonderful. Also, being a small child in a haunted house sure is going to leave a mark, isn’t it? Who does that kid grow up into? And what or who was haunting the house? We’ll learn more about that particular ghost in a future novelette, because in this series, every ghost — no matter how wicked now — was once a halfway-decent person. The truly bad ones went straight to Hell. Of course, the truly good people went straight to Heaven…
So how’d I do? Feedback is always welcome, and reading is always encouraged.