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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

21 First Lines M-Type Thing

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet

"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

21 First Lines M-Type Thing

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So there is this m-type thing going around everywhere (EVERYWHERE!!1! okay, I'm being melodramatic a bit ...) that asks you to post the first line of your last 21 stories. This seems interesting and also mindless enough to do after spending the afternoon out in the sun digging in the dirt. (Which is better than out in the dirt digging in the sun.)

I'm just going with Silmfic because I'm honestly too tired right now to figure out how anything original I might have written would fit into this chronology. I'm sure there's original stuff in there. (I know there is.)

1. "It was not as he'd been taught it'd be." (from a poem written today that will be posted tomorrow if I like how it sounds read out loud at the firepit with Bobby tonight. wheee!)

2. "Good girls and boys, never speak about gold," (Prayers about Rain; this was tough since the story starts with a library catalog entry for a poem from an anthology; I decided to go with the first line from the poem)

3. "Nerdanel awoke with a start." (Daytracer)

4. "It was usually the way, in Daeron's experience, that determination to avoid that single sharp thing in the way of an otherwise smooth journey resulted in a disastrous collision." (Sharp Things in the Way)

5. "My counselors were chattering an indecipherable jumble of words and Orodreth was hovering warily at my elbow and I was trying not to limp, an attempt that took enough energy that the words and overwrought concern both went largely unnoticed, like flies pinging off a thick hide." (The Sovereign and the Priest)

6. "Summer in Tirion was oppressive, like catching Treelight in a bottle, with all that white stone and relative lack of shade trees." (The Sailing Forth)

7. "The last corpse had been an hour ago: young, by his build, his wounds washed bloodless even as his hair was darkened by the storm-churned sea to where none could tell if he was Noldo or Teler, not that any wandered close enough to really look." (Threads)

8. "Her first critiques of Amarië’s poems were that they lacked conflict, lacked a stake in anything significant." (The Fallen)

9. "The wound on his forearm had been deep and, in the haste of fleeing from the north to Ossiriand, improperly cared for." (Leaves before the Wind)

10. "The towers of Tirion aspired above the morning mist, austere towers of steel and cement and limestone, sturdy as cliffs and delicate as silver rods." (The Bearer of Light; this is actually Sinclair Lewis's first line for Babbitt, adapted for Silmfic.)

11. "It had been an accident, the first time it happened." Toys in the Hall)

12. "It recurs often, the dream." (Reembodied)

13. "The bell tolled, and for a moment, all of Tirion held its breath." (Five Bells)

14. "When he sees me crest the hill, he rises to meet me, offers me a hand to help me down stone stairs I can navigate perfectly well on my own." (Speak Faster)

15. "Nerdanel the wise had known that it would end in grief." (The Turning)

16. "It inspired a sort of madness, a relentlessness not permitted in the months when the days were shorter and darkness compelled him to sleep." (White Nights)

15. "It is said that Mortals arose at the Sun's first rising, that which is now the longest day of the year." (The Swift Flame)

16. "It would come to pass that one of the ancient mines beneath Angband would need to be reopened, and one would be selected from among the prisoners to vouch for its safety." (Delvers)

17. "If I could swipe my hand across the past and erase a single deed as chalk from a slate, then slap the dust from my hands and let it be borne into inconsequence upon the wind--would I?" (The Pendant in the Stream)

18. "It was a purposeless game that Tulkas invented to teach me and the other kings the workings of battle strategy." (Battle Strategy)

19. "There they are, by the door, where he left them." (Ash to Ash; also not including the quote from the Silm that opens this story.)

20. "Sometimes I listen to them squabbling and I smile." (Temperance)

21. "I awoke not on satin but sheets uncouth, for who notices the slip of satin on skin after a long day of hunting, tillage, prospecting, negotiation?" (A King in Paradise)

The last third (#14-21) are from various ficlets, which led me to realize that I have not written a ficlet in literally years now. Part of that is that I have less time to write and so prefer to focus on my favorite forms and genres, and I have always preferred longer fiction. I also kind of feel like I've done my time in experimenting with anything and everything and so have also reached the point where I want to focus on what I want to write, i.e., longer stories, and know myself well enough as a writer not to feel bad about that.

But that aside. In the run of ficlets, I start a lot with the word "It." But that's really the only annoying thing I'm picking up on? Am I missing something? Sometimes I start with a character, sometimes with an action, sometimes with a musing. Some of the lines are short; some are long. I have a couple of metaphors in there but I don't use this technique enough to make it oppressive.

I don't start a lot with description, and the only line that starts with a description of setting is the one adapted from Sinclair Lewis. I don't like opening with setting, honestly. The setting is never the most important thing to me, and I tend to feel like a lot of setting descriptions in opening paragraphs are dull and skimmed over to get to the meat of the story (at least by me). Sinclair Lewis's opening line, of course, is a great exception to my general distaste for starting with setting. (I love Babbitt--I had to move it off of my night table because every time I see it, I want to reread it--and made the bingo card "First Lines" that that came from; I remember loving that line enough that I worked very hard to squish it down small enough to fit on the card!)

Most of my first lines open with "The" or with a pronoun. Maybe I should try opening with stronger words. Like "blood" or "knives." (This post is a little weird. Sorry. My brain is addled by sun and poetry.)

Before I call it quits for the night, I want to wish a very happy Mother's Day to the moms on my flist! I'm not a mom (being a pet owner and teacher don't count, even though well-meaning people try to bring me into the Mother's Day umbrella for both!) and have no intention of being one because y'all do a job that I am just not cut out for doing. So I admire what you do and send a shout out to all the smart, creative, and cool moms reading this! :) I hope you were generously treated today.

This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

  • I agree that teaching or having pets does not count as being a mother. First and foremost one does not have to gestate and give birth to students or pets (although there are mother who did not give birth to their children! I am sure I could think of other differences, but I am tired too.

    Thanks! Had a fun Mother's Day with pockets of extreme frustration.
    • I just read your Mother's Day entry, and it did indeed sound frustrating at times! :^| It sounds like the restaurant was woefully unprepared for the crowd that inevitably goes out for Mother's Day.

      I don't get the desire to include non-moms under the Mother's Day umbrella. People will wish me a happy Mother's Day (who know I'm not a mom!), and when I say, "Thanks, but I'm not actually a mom," then they rush to try to justify why I am, like, "Sure you are! You have two dogs!" Umm. The big difference is that I get to send students home on the bus at the end of the day, and I can put my dogs in the yard when they get on my nerves. Simply caring for things doesn't qualify one for Mother's Day honors! I might as well get well wishes because of my houseplants!
  • Thank you!
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