Saturday, September 18, 2010

First Lines

"You're assignment is to look at first lines, as many as possible in an afternoon's browsing. Head to the library or bookstore or even your own shelves, and read - first lines only. Type up a list of your ten or twenty favorites. What makes them work?"Exercise 3 from Writing Life Stories by Bill Roorback

So I did. I spent an afternoon at my local library. It's not a big library, it's a small town library. Small town as in I know 4 of the 20 people sitting in here. Small town friendliness. They're gonna come and ask me about my family and ask what I'm doing and I can't decide whether I'll admit I'm doing research. I can't imagine saying, "I'm learning how to be an author" just yet.

So I head to the back shelves. Out of the eye sight of any curious acquaintances. I am in the nonfiction section and I'm pulling down random books and reading first lines. But I'm not sure if Mr. Roorbach means the first line in the book or the first line of the first chapter. Because these books have forwards, introductions and acknowledgements. Read the first line of what? I decide to read first lines of first chapters. Here is a list of my favorites:

"A serious man in a serious life."

"We were young. We were in love. We were rollicking in those sublime early days of marriage when life seems to be as good as it gets." Marley & Me by John Grogan

"My mother is scraping a piece of burned toast out of the kitchen window a crease of annoyance across her forehead." Toast by Nigel Slater

"There is a sign on my fridge that reads 'I serve 3 meals; frozen, microwave &  take out' and sadly I'm not exaggerating." Dinner for Busy Moms by Jeanne Muchnick

At 7 o'clock on a dreary evening in the Left Bank, Julia began roasting pigeons for the second time in her life" Julie & Julia by Julie Powell

"For Snow White cleaning came easy. Not only did she have an army of cute little forest creatures to help her sanitize the 7 Dwarves' home but also she knew how to clean house with a smile on her face and a hope in her step. Her secret? Whistling while she worked." Clean It Fast Clean It Right by Jeff Brendedberg

"It's great to love ones' work" The Martha Rules by Martha Stewart

"When under siege she rises early, dresses quickly, and cauterizes her emotions" Hillary's Choice by Gail Sheehy

"From the porch, the river looked smoky brown sometimes, rosy and lavender when the sun was going down, then slate grey, just before it turned pitch black. From the porch the lights of the Island Queen beckoned like reachable stars. From the porch, the river promised better times coming, far away places just around the bend. From the porch, the river was a wide tranquil ribbon, no hint of a dangerous current. All you could see from the porch were possibilities, not perils."  Girl Singer by Rosemary Clooney with Joan Barthel

"What did I have, what was makin'me so scared that my heart beat out of my chest? I just knew I was gonna die..." It Ain't All About The Cookin' by Paula Dean

"Thank God for snobs" Tony Curtis The Autobiography

"The first and foremost way I knew my marriage was in trouble was the usual way, the trouble itself" Still Life with Chickens by Catherine Goldhammer

"My Grandmother Cheever taught me how to embroider, how to say the Lord's Prayer, and how to make a perfect dry martini" Note Found in a Bottle by Susan Cheever

Exercise 3 DONE!
now off to read. I grabbed almost all of the above mentioned books to read.... their first lines were really that good!!

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