Variation of First Lines Meme
This is a variation of the m-word thingy about first lines of stories. I think the original intention is to post the first line of the first story posted each month. However, I am going to list the first lines of all stories written this year. There is a method behind my madness: I wish to see if I am getting into any annoying habits where first lines are concerned.
The Tapestries, Chapter Eight
In the height of rebellion, it is easy to forget the little details that will later form the bulk of one’s concerns.
The ship comes on the night of the darkened moon when the tide is its highest and it is least treacherous to pass the sandbar at the mouth of the harbor.
February ... Apparently, I didn't write, which isn't particularly surprising, since I usually get depressed and uninspired at this time of the year.
I found him in the garden, with his back to me, shoulders hunched, busy with something that lay across the lawn.
April ... Again, no writing! Why? Oh yeah. I was designing the effing archive and buying a house. Right. So ...
The Fall of the Sun (flocked)
The blade sings lightly against the whetstone, and Anige matches her voice to it, a single quavering note.
I was there the day the queen died, standing silently in the corner, in my place.
June ... See April for notes on archive and house. Note to flist: do not attempt to procure online and offline home simultaneously. Bad idea.
She was the only one who ever asked: How do you feel about them?
Manwë's Birthday Party, "Valmar of Many Bells"
"Blast these bells!" Manwë muttered to himself as he paced the length of his halls and attempted to rub away a flourishing headache.
August ... I was doing a lot of work on The Small and Secret Things at this time, but I'm not going to post first lines for those here. There ended up being thirty-six of them, they're all ficlets--some as short as 100 words--and I'm honestly more concerned about the first lines of my longer works. So there.
But I did write a story (that I almost forgot) for heartofoshun!
The Scribe and the Heir
Green Knight Story (flocked)
On the longest night of the year, the sun sank early and shadows crept long across the land.
Journeys of Vása ... This is a series of vignettes, so I'll give the first line of each.
When first did I know thee?
II. Innocence Reclaimed
I don't think that, in hundreds of years of service, I have ever heard the Aulendili fall into such utter silence.
He is an earnest-faced youth, reminiscent of my son Findekáno when he was still innocent and young, and enamored of knowledge for the simple sake of knowing it.
I stare at the pill in the palm of my hand, lying in the sweaty creases that are supposed to indicate my destiny, and I think, I don't need it, a tip of my palm and a flush and it's gone, and I can prove, once and for all, that I am "normal." That I don't need it.
The Tower (flocked)
Ada Abbott was to be the bride of the Lord of Drakemore, and she arrived at the castle on a rain-soaked evening, having come by perilous road across the moors under clouds laying low across the land as though seeking to smother it.
The Boardwalk (flocked)
There aren't many of us left now.
A Concise Guide to Avoiding Death and Profound Suffering while Traveling on a Road Trip, Based on Revelations Provided by the Modern Horror Film Industry (flocked)
I knew this was a bad idea.
Cirque Sanguine (flocked)
Deep in the bottommost drawer of her bureau, where she hoped was least likely to be searched, beneath coarsecloth underclothes and rolls of knee-high woolen socks and petticoats stained by age and hard work, Nissa keeps a single pair of bright red tights, given to her by Master Sangfellow precisely one year earlier on this day.
NaNoWriMo (unpublished, untitled, and unfinished)
The invasion came to Palaran in the 848th Turn as they mark their time, and it is said that the south seas that day turned black with the sails of the Morduthi ships.
Stars of the Lesser
It was a cold and blustery day as Pengolodh picked his way down the rocks to the sea.
For What I Wait
I have filled the teacup to brimming, and I totter from the kitchen to the bedroom, trying not to slosh hot tea upon my hand.
Gently, Nerdanel patted the soil into place around the base of the sapling.
To Forgive ... This is a series of four fixed-length ficlets, so I'll give the first line of each.
My restless fingers rove across everything.
A crash from upstairs rouses me from my book.
III. The Spiderweb--Nolofinwë
It is the first fair morning of spring, and while out riding, I found a spiderweb bejeweled in dew, stretched between two trees.
The Ghost in the Garden
It was a humid night in the midst of the midsummer celebration, and the air was heavy and thick.
It seems that I like to start with mundane or seemingly insignificant actions ("Gently, Nerdanel patted the soil into place around the base of the sapling," "I found him in the garden, with his back to me, shoulders hunched, busy with something that lay across the lawn") or descriptions ("On the longest night of the year, the sun sank early and shadows crept long across the land," "It was a humid night in the midst of the midsummer celebration, and the air was heavy and thick"). I can't say that I find this particularly annoying, although I might want to be aware of my opening lines a bit more and try some new things.
Opening lines are tricky. I remember when I still read fiction for Anti-Com, one of the comments I made most often to authors whose stories we weren't going to publish had to do with opening lines: Drop me into the story as soon as you can. And whatever you do, don't use the first paragraph to wax philosophical about the themes or what you hope I as the reader will "get" out of the story.
I remember once reading a piece of fiction that was six paragraphs long ... and in Paragraph Four, the author decided to start introducing the actual story, like characters and plot and all that fluffy stuff. Before that, it was literally a page of mumbling on and on and on with all these beautiful lines about the Meaning of Life™ and all these lovely, elaborate metaphors ... the only problem was that all of this mumbo-jumbo had absolutely no context and so it was pretty words against a blank white background. I think that I advised that author to start with Paragraph Four and work the best lines from the first three paragraphs--some of which were quite good--into the actual story, rather than delivering them as a single glob to the reader right off the bat.
But anyway. I think--I hope--that I don't do anything so annoying. The only first line here that I think might count as Waxing Philosophical comes from The Tapestries ("In the height of rebellion, it is easy to forget the little details that will later form the bulk of one’s concerns"), and this is actually the first line to Chapter Eight, but since Chapter Eight was the first chapter that I posted in '07, I decided to include it anyway. Just for kicks and giggles, the actual first line to "The Tapestries," posted in November of '06, is
It’s a funny thing, dying.
Which is a pretty decent line, as far as my first lines go, I think. I think it would make me want to read on. It's certainly attention-grabbing, to me, "Oooooh, who is this guy and what does he know about dying?" and all that.
I did notice that the first lines I like the best tend to belong to my horror stories. (Check October. These are all horror stories for Haunted October [flocked].) I think that, if I was a reader choosing which of these stories to read based on the first line, I would probably choose one of these. I think that many of them do make one wonder, "What is going on here?" which is a good thing in a first line, I think.
Of course, part of the reason that my fanfic beginnings tend to be bland is because the plots to my fanfic tend to be a little bland. They are largely character-driven. So those mundane moments really do say something, like Nerdanel planting trees in the minutes before the apocalypse in "Rekindling." As ladyelleth (for whom the story was written) commented on the first line,
I realized that the story worked so well because it was set against the backdrop of something so mundane, and something that fit her so well. After all Feanor and his sons did, however long ago that was, I can see her trying to heal things, everything. Planting trees may be a modern association to that, but it's still - life. The sapling's fist-leaf made that very clear, so it is not a surprise that she is gardening, and always was. She's a mother.
Which was pretty much what I was trying to do. (Thanks, Elleth!)
Original character-driven stories (like Akliya [flocked]) tend to have the same mundane first lines ("The ship comes on the night of the darkened moon when the tide is its highest and it is least treacherous to pass the sandbar at the mouth of the harbor").
So I suppose that my conclusion must be that while my first lines aren't necessarily the most wow-inducing, suspense-generating, dramatic creations ever to be wrought in ink and pixels, then they do serve the stories that they introduce. Because, when it comes down to it, I am really not a wow-inducing, suspense-generating, dramatic writer. Most of my stuff is character- and mood-driven ... or aspires to be. It is my hope that my strengths with these aspects of storytelling will breathe life into my otherwise bland plotlines, where I will admit that I am not particularly strong.
Now I am proud of myself too for resisting the urge to attempt to categorize and statistically analyze my first lines ... and ask Teh Flist to help. o.O I am that much of a nerd, but my time for nerdsomeness really needs to be aimed in more productive directions today, and the goodwill of Teh Flist (who if they have made it this far have just survived a whole lot of writing-related introspective rambling) who put up with my oddities and obsessiveness with a commendable amount of good humor and cheer already.