Hooked on Beginnings 6/19/2020

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by Carmen Peone

Let’s face it, that first line is a bugger!  

It’s the hook that grabs the reader’s attention right from the beginning and should sink a barb straight into their curiosity 

The first few lines are what will catapult readers into the story, and it’s your job to keep them turning pages. But if you can’t snatch their interest in the beginning, you’ve sunk the line 

Have you noticed in bookstores, potential book buyers crack open a book and start reading? Have you also noticed the author has about twenty seconds to sell them on their story? They will either pull out the cash or move on.  

As Les Edgerton says in his book, Hooked, a great opening sentence can swing the door wide open. The door to agents, editors, and sales.  

There are various ways to kick off a novel, and some include: 

Dialogue – To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf 

Confession – Plummet by Brandilyn Collins 

Fact or statement – The Long Trail Home by Stephen Bly 

Prologue – A Light in the Wilderness by Jane Kirkpatrick 

Setting  Wrapped in Rain by Charles Martin 

Action – Over the Edge by Mary Connealy 

Whatever first line you choose, it must promise trouble to come or drop the reader in the middle of a predicament 

Some of the most noted first lines include: 

Call me IshmaelMoby Dick by Herman Melville 

They almost fingerprint the children before I can stop them. Milk, a short story, by Ron Carlson.  

He was so mean that wherever he was standing became the bad part of town. The Bad Part of Town, a short story, by Les Edgerton 

The Boy Shot Wild Bill’s horse at dusk, while Bill was off in the bushes to relieve himself. Deadwood by Pete Dexter.  

Some fabulous first lines by my favorite authors: 

“I get this call, out of the blue. A woman. First, she reminds me that I saved her life. Then says she wants me to do her a favor…” Spider Woman’s Daughter by Anne Hillerman 

In those days, even before the war had swept up all the young men from the ranches, there were girls who came through the country breaking horses. The Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss 

Lilly told three lies to go with her father one stormy afternoon when she was ten, the afternoon that she first learned about the swan killer. The Swan Keeper by Milana Marsenich 

Vultures signaled trouble ahead. A Lady Like Sarah by Margaret Brownley 

And my all time favorite from Mary Connealy’s novel, The Husband Tree 

Belle Tanner pitched dirt right on Anthony’s handsome, worthless face.  

What ever you do, your job is to peak a reader’s curiosity and capture some kind of emotion. What are some of your favorite first lines?  

About the Author:

Carmen PeoneCarmen Peone has lived in Northeast Washington and on the Colville Confederated Indian Reservation since 1988. She had worked with a Tribal Elder, Marguerite Ensminger, for three years learning the Arrow Lakes Language and various cultural traditions. She owns and trains her horses and competes in local Extreme Challenge and Mountain Trail competitions. With a degree in psychology, the thought of writing never entered her mind, until she married her husband and they moved to the reservation after college. With the love of history and western woman lifestyle, she brings stories of hope, family, relationships, and faith to her novels.

These books were a labor of love, especially the second edition of the True to Heart Trilogy. Thank you to my cover model, Shayna Palmanteer of the Colville Confederated Tribes, for your willingness to be a part of this adventure. Visit my website for information on the workbooks that go along with my young adult books at https://carmenpeone.com/books/.

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