Monday, January 9, 2012

Firsts - Or as Julie Andrews Says, "Let's start from the very beginning"

I knew it was too good to be true.

***

There are two problems with being the daughter of a best-selling etiquette guru.

***

I closed my eyes and inhaled just long enough to recognize the first sign of summer.

***

I don’t play tennis with Jessie anymore.

***

I still wonder if she knew.


Those are the first lines to my five YA books. I love first lines. They truly are the first things I write when starting a book, even though I don't write the subsequent chapters in chronological order. I skip all over the place, writing something for chapter 15 before I even know what chapter 10 will say. But I can't even begin to see the story without hearing the first line.

I knew it was too good to be true. This line from PLAN B sums up Vanessa - she's someone who has her life planned out with little margin of error, until she finds out something that turns her carefully planned world upside down. And she's not very happy about it or equipped to deal with the consequences.

There are two problems with being the daughter of a best-selling etiquette guru. In THE BOOK OF LUKE Emily has been raised to be polite, to be well-behaved, to do what's expected. Until a series of events help her decide that it's time to stop being so nice.

I closed my eyes and inhaled just long enough to recognize the first sign of summer. I really enjoyed this first line from LOCAL GIRLS. The book takes place on the island of Martha's Vineyard. So you'd think she's inhaling the expected signs of summer - the ocean, the flowers, the fresh breeze. Only she's inhaling the smell of a dead skunk by the side of the road - a scent that only a native islander would associate with summer, not the lovely scents the tourists chose to remember from the island.

I don’t play tennis with Jessie anymore. In RICH BOYS the main character, Winnie, has a best friend, Jessie. The story starts and ends in basically the same place, the tennis courts where Jessie teaches kids to play tennis. The story starts at the beginning of summer and ends at the end of summer. I liked the idea of having the story start and end at the same location, sort of bookends to all the change and turmoil that happens in the middle.

I still wonder if she knew. Haley is haunted (albeit not literally) by an incident that takes the life of one person while saving the life of another in my latest novel, WHEN YOU LEAVE. Everyone is telling Haley to move on and forget what happened, but it's not that easy - especially when Haley makes choices that she has to keep secret or risk losing the "normal" life everyone expects her to resume.

Oh, I just love writing first sentences! Can't wait to begin the next ones!

7 comments:

  1. I agree--first sentences are so exciting. Kind of like the first moments you spend with someone you just know you're going to fall for...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great first lines! :) One of my faves is from Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard-

    “The winds in Washokey make people go crazy.”

    ReplyDelete
  3. Do you ever go back and change a first line before you're finished? What about endings? Do you write them first? I find last lines easier than first I think.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hmm, I don't think I have every changed a first line! I also write my endings very near the start of a book. I know how it starts, how it ends, and work my way toward the middle - which I think it the hardest part about writing.

    ReplyDelete
  5. My first lines change multiple times before the final draft. Good for you, having that kind of focus!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Nice! The first sentences of my first two books definitely stayed the same all the way through, but the third one not so much. I'm really intrigued by the book trailer for your latest book! Dying for more details and can't wait to read it!

    ReplyDelete