So you can read my books

Tuesday, January 20, 2015



My first line for THE LAST SHAMAN:

 "When she was thunder in the distance, I awoke."

My first line for RETURN OF THE LAST SHAMAN:

  "The night had strung death like beads along the thread of its hours." 

      says the best writers hook their readers with voice, not just action.

Stephen King:

"There are all sorts of theories and ideas about what constitutes a good opening line.

It's a tricky thing, and tough to talk about because I don't think conceptually while I work on a first draft --

I just write.

To get scientific about it is a little like trying to catch moonbeams in a jar.

But there's one thing I'm sure about.

 An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. 

It should say: 'Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.'

 The opening line of It is

'The terror that would not end for another 28 years, if it ever did, began so far as I can know or tell, 

with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain.'

When I'm starting a book, I compose in bed before I go to sleep.

 I will lie there in the dark and think. I'll try to write a paragraph. An opening paragraph.

And over a period of weeks and months and even years,

I'll word and reword it until I'm happy with what I've got. 

If I can get that first paragraph right, I'll know I can do the book"

What do I personally think about first lines?

 A good first line should be as good as your favorite film quote.

Something that even when taken out of context has power – 

the power to make someone laugh or think or gasp or grimace.

The best opening lines, 

when read in the bookstore, can make or break the sale of a book arguably even more than its blurb.

I may not judge a book by its cover, 
 but I often judge it 
on the first sentence.



  1. First lines are always tricky. I didn't do so good the first time, but I liked the way I started the following three books.

  2. Alex:
    We grow by doing, right? Best of luck with your 4th!! :-)

  3. First sentences matter to me too. Ironically, the most famous is probably the simplest: "Call me Ismael."

  4. I TOTALLY judge a book by its first line!!!! I swear I can tell whether a writer is talented or not by their first line. :)

    And Roland, you're just the best. I'm so glad I know you. You're such a good friend and you've always given me strength in times of hardship. Not only are you a talent, but you have the kindest of hearts. Thank you for sharing your goodness with the world! <3

  5. I definitely think the first line is important. And I'm not about starting with action either. I want to be drawn into a character before all the Bad Things happen to them.

  6. It took me awhile to wean off of the old-fashioned style I was used to, opening by setting up the characters, story, and setting. I personally don't need to be immediately hooked, but I should at least be interested enough to keep going.

  7. I love your two opening sentences!

  8. Helena:
    Sometimes short is best in first lines. I'm glad we agree about first lines. :-)

    That is so very nice of you to say. I wish I lived up to your great compliment. The way to greatness lies not in money nor in fame but in a heart that cares and hands that help, right?

    You are so right: we must first care about the character before we care is she or he survives! I hope you try audiobooks to "read" more books this year as you wish! :-)

    I think we all have to un-learn so much as we continue our journey to become authors. :-) As King said: not so much a hook but a tweak of our curiosity to find out what happens next.

    I am so glad you liked them. I worked hard on them! Wolf Howl would have no other way! And you never disagree with a shaman!! :-)

  9. First lines are important, but I don't just by the first line. I like a good paragraph or two though.