Pencil to Paper

The Daily Life of a Compulsive Writer

The First Sentence Petting Zoo January 22, 2011

Filed under: Books,Writing — katblogger @ 10:27 AM
Tags: , , , , ,

A while ago, I wrote a post on the power of a first sentence. That being said, I thought – Why not show people the good, the bad, and the just plain weird of first sentences? So I grabbed some popular books, and some ones I like, and cracked them open to the first page. Here you are, along with a little commentary of mine.

The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale

“She was born Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, and she did not open her eyes for three days.”

Good. We have a character’s name – a pretty long character name, which is intruiging – and the mystery. Why won’t she open her eyes?

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

“When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.”

Medium. The act of waking up adds immediacy, and the cold bed signifies that someone is missing. Still… it could be better.

Uglies, Scott Westerfeld.

“The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit.”

Good. This is one of the just plain weird ones. But it’s intruiging, isn’t it?

Midnighters: Blue Noon, Scott Westerfeld. (What can I say? He writes great first sentences.)

“Bixby High’s late bell shrieked in the distance, like something wounded and ready to be cut from the herd.”

Very good. The character is late, adding drama. Also, from their POV, they sound like a psychopath. That always draws me in.

Twilight, Stephenie Meyer

“I’d never given much thought to how I would die – thought I’d had reason enough in the last few months – but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.”

Medium. As much as I like to hate on Twilight, this is pretty good. Obviously it sets up an immediate conflict. But it is a little long, and overly dramatic.

Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone, JK Rowling

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”

Low medium. It’s not usually a good idea to start a book by talking about secondary characters. And saying they’re ‘perfectly normal’ isn’t really an eye catcher.

Runemarks, Joanne Harris

“Seven o’clock on a Monday morning, five hundred years after the End of the World, and goblins had been at the cellar again.”

Very good. After the end of the world? Goblins? Seriously – this is a good hook.


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