I asked a few authors to comment on the first sentence of their book, and I got such a great response. So good, in fact, that I’ve turned this into a little series here at Books on the Brain called Friday First Lines. Each Friday I’ll share First Line thoughts by two or three authors.
Will these first sentences be enough to entice you to add them to your TBR list? They were for me!
“Before I died the first time, my husband left me broke and alone with our two tiny children and it made me feel very depressed, etc.” Amy Shearn, The Mermaid of Brooklyn
I thought about this book for a long time in an inchoate way before I actually started writing. But when I did sit down and begin – boom – there was the first sentence. This sentence made everything about the book possible for me. It includes the three main projects of the book: the impossible and slightly magical – died the first time? – the terribleness of the mundane – husband left, broke, depressed – and to me, the “etc” makes it funny. You know immediately (I hope) that you are in the hands of an irreverent, slightly glib, possibly unreliable narrator.
This sentence is probably the only one in the book that never changed in my many revisions. I hope it sucks readers in. I love first sentences. I love first thirds of novels, actually. I just realized that about myself as a reader, that I love every first third of every novel I can remember reading. Maybe everyone’s like that. Because writing the first third of a novel well is, I think, pretty easy. It’s the ending that’s hard. But when I wrote this first sentence I also had the last sentence in mind, so that made working my way through the book vastly more doable. I recommend that to anyone trying to write a book, and I’m including myself in that category as I embark on my next one – write the first and last sentences at the same time.