Chapter One, Line One

Snoopy typing

One of my favorite authors of 2009, Gail Carriger (Soulless, remember?) has posted a rumination on the opening lines in fantasy/scifi novels. Check it out, won’t you?

(Make sure you scroll on through the comments for more great first lines.)

So, bearing in mind the immortal words of Sam Seaborn (“Good writers borrow from other writers. Great writers steal from them outright.”) here are some selected opening lines for you, gentle reader.

First, I love these two, from the American Book Review’s 100 Best Opening Lines:

“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” – William Gibson, Neuromancer

“You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a winter’s night a traveler.” – Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Travler

And some personal favorites:

“It was a dark and stormy night.” – Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

“The Deliverator belongs to an elite order, a hallowed sub-category.” – Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

“The Hegemony Consul sat on the balcony of his ebony spaceship and played Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C-Sharp Minor on an ancient but well-maintained Steinway while great, green, saurian things surged and bellowed in the swamps below.” – Dan Simmons, Hyperion

Barrabas came to us by sea, the child Clara wrote in her delicate calligraphy.” – Isabel Allende, House of the Spirits

“Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge.” – Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin

And for sheer quantity of melodrama-flavored awesomesauce, it doesn’t get any better than this:

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed.” -Stephen King, The Gunslinger

Finally, I would be completely remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to show you the (latest) opening line from my Work-In-Progress:

“Autumn was early to class, something she couldn’t remember ever happening before.”

Do you have a favorite opening line? A least favorite? Comment away!


Monday’s link assemblage

Monday morning afternoon, scourge of the salaried class, has arrived. But this week, it brings the debut of a new feature – a link collection/infodump/lazy-ass post o’ fun.

Basically, here are some things I found on the internet that you might not have seen yet. Enjoy, link to me, tweet about it–whatever floats your boat.

Who’s Blogging What?

Selling a Debut Novel – 2010: A Book Odyssey

It’s somewhat traditional for debut authors of a given year to be grouped as a “class”. A group of YA/MG (Young Adult/Middle Grade) 2010 debuts (or debs) is blogging together at 2010: A Book Odyssey. Jen Nadol, author of The Mark (due out January 19) polled her fellow tenners and wrote up an interesting statistical analysis.

Electric Kool-Aid Conflict Test – The INTERN

The INTERN is the Tyler Durden of the publishing world, only less anarchic destruction and more snarky deconstruction. Nameless and personality-rich, here she gets existential on chapter-ending cliffhangers.

The Curious Case of the Headless Heroine – Gail Carriger

Soulless author (Note: Soulless is a book. To the best of my knowledge, Ms. Carriger does, in fact, have a soul.) Carriger turns her sleuthing skills to the troubling trend of headless heroines on urban fantasy book covers. What could be behind this insidious imagery?

New Sidebar Links:

Wondermark – Perhaps the finest 19th century clipart webcomic in history. No mean feat, that.

Query Shark – Aspiring writers take heed. Serious heed.

Tor – Top-notch publisher, but also a fantastic website for original stories, great commentary, book giveaways, etc.

This Recording – Reliably interesting, urbane, intelligent, amusing commentary on culture. Plus, free mp3s.

Bonus Link

A quiz I created on sporcle, Fictional Countries. Fair warning: folks tell me it’s a hard one.