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29 November 2012 @ 10:11 am
Five First Lines, An Exercise  
Snaffled from eneit, who got it from anghara, who got it from this post, by fiction_theory.

The exercise, which originated with this book, is as follows: Come up with five opening lines for books you never intend to write. Use different techniques and try out different genres than you usually would. Just make them as interesting and compelling in one line as you can.

To further challenge myself, I've selected genres in which I haven't written and with which I have limited experience. Which means I have done some limited research by reading small bits of works in each of my chosen genres.
  1. Lady Agatha Gordon-Smythe was dying and Cynthia Billingsworth found that she was quite perplexed as to whether she should feel sympathy, or relief, having spent the last five years acting as nurse to her demanding and cranky aunt and sitting by as the old woman married off all her daughers to wealthy young men, and her sons to even wealthier women; while Cynthia cared little for life in the ton, she did not look forward to a life of caring for her various elderly relatives, or, worse, those of others, and so she knew she must find some other means of survival, even if it meant finding a husband. (Regency romance)
  2. Stepping onto the platform at the station in San Buenaventura, Addy was grateful for the sea breeze that gave her her first taste of ash-free air in days; also carried on the breeze was the lyrical sound of Spanish, the predominant tongue in the city, which worried her, for her knowledge of the language was limited to her study of a battered lexicon purchased in Utah and a copy of Don Quixote left behind by another passenger. (Western)
  3. Emily looked up at the clock and decided that 45 minutes of desultory work on the Bramwell campaign was enough to earn her a coffee break, especially since her manager, Laura, was in a meeting and the hot new guy from Marketing was in the break room. (Occupational fiction / Workplace tell-all)
  4. I see ghosts, everywhere. I know they are only fragments of memory, bits of flotsam left behind by those who leave, but as no one ever stays I have only the ghosts. (Existentialist fiction)
  5. Late for the first day of class, Martin ran up the steps of the Cesar E. Chavez Building, glad they were few and his economics class was on the first floor, since Coach had required all the new recruits to run laps for the last half-hour of practice, but no sooner had he slammed through the door into the entranceway than he came to a full stop, stunned by the sight of a pretty blond girl lying in a pool of blood. (Campus murder mystery)
Note: Looking for genres you might want to play with? Wikipedia has an extensive list.
Eneiteneit on November 30th, 2012 12:08 am (UTC)
I'm quite curious about No: 4 :)
Pamela D Lloyd: fairy promisespdlloyd on November 30th, 2012 01:07 am (UTC)
I know that part of the exercise was to avoid writing first lines to something we might actually write, but it's just about impossible for me to write even a single sentence without being invested in the story behind it.

I never even knew, prior to reading the list on Wikipedia, that there was an existential literary genre, which upon perusal of the first pages of several authors (Google fu + Amazon look inside to the rescue) turns out to be all about existence (of course) of the viewpoint character, of the characters with whom the vp character interacts, or even of reality, itself. Kinda like turning Hamlet's soliloquy into a novel length work.
marycatellimarycatelli on November 30th, 2012 02:49 am (UTC)
That sounds like a formula for tempting the muse.
Pamela D Lloyd: the lady or the tigerpdlloyd on December 1st, 2012 07:50 am (UTC)
Oh, yes. Try telling a writer they can't write something. ;>
Eneiteneit on November 30th, 2012 04:14 am (UTC)
I really enjoy existential literary, so that first line was always going to hook me :)
Pamela D Lloyd: lady with cuppdlloyd on December 1st, 2012 07:53 am (UTC)
The term was new to me, and it's not a genre I've explored, but the concept seems simple enough. The trouble would be in execution, I imagine. Do you have a favorite work in the category?
asakiyumeasakiyume on December 2nd, 2012 11:35 am (UTC)
Wow, some of these genres I didn't even know were genres! I'll have to visit that Wikipedia link you provide. I like your Western one--the battered lexicon and Don Quixote really appealed as details. The Regency one definitely captures something of the elaborate sentences that seem common in the genre!
Pamela D Lloyd: readingpdlloyd on December 2nd, 2012 11:22 pm (UTC)
I was also amazed at the lengthy list of genres and subgenres.

Thank you for your comments about my lines, I had fun writing all of them. I especially appreciate your comments regarding the Regency; I found the best-selling Regencies on Amazon didn't have quite the feel I was looking for, and so I turned to Austen and her contemporaries for inspiration. Also, elaborate sentences, I fear, are far too easy for me and something I must usually avoid, rather than encourage, when I am writing for publication.