Thursday, November 27, 2008

First Lines

Publishers and editors tell us all the time that the first sentence of your novel is the most important sentence in the book. It sets the tone for what the entire story is about. I decided to compare my first sentences to those in some of the best selling and classic books and found that some of mine are pretty good.

Here’s a chance to compare your beginnings with those who have made an impression on many of us with their writings.

See if you can match the first sentence to the book it came from and as a bonus, name the author. Now don’t cheat. I promise you I didn’t sneak one of mine in, though I thought about it.

1. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

2. All happy families are alike, but an unhappy family is unhappy after its own fashion.

3. I have been afraid of putting air in a tire ever since I saw a tractor tire blow up and throw Newt Hardbines's father over the top of the Standard Oil sign.

4. I've been called Bone all my life, but my name's Ruth Anne.

5. I was a child murderer.

6. Maggie and Ira Moran had to go to a funeral in Deer Lick, Pennsylvania.

7. Nobody was really surprised when it happened, not really, not on the subconscious level where savage things grow.

8. You better not never tell nobody but God.

9. There were 117 psychoanalysts on the Pan Am flight to Vienna and I'd been treated by at least six of them.

10. Should I have taken the false teeth?

11. This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it.

12. All this happened, more or less.

The Answers: l. 1984 by George Orwell 2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy 3. The Bean Tree by Barbara Kingsolver 4. Bastard out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison 5. Expensive People by Joyce Carol Oats 6. Breathing Lessons by Ann Tyler 7. Carrie by Stephen King 8. The Color Purple by Alice Walker 9. Fear of Flying by Erica Jong 10. The Cunning Man by Robertson Davies 11. The Princess Bride by William Goldman 12. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Happy turkey day

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