Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"The moment one learns English, complications set in." And other First Lines of Novels.

 StumbleUpon led me to  100 Best First Lines From Novels .  Are they really the best?  That's a fruitless debate.  But they're a good challenge to any writer - even bloggers - to think about how they put words together.  OK, now that I've totally blown my own first line here, let's start over again.

His fingers curled up and stopped typing after reading the 100 Best Fist Lines. 

It won't win any awards, but it's better than the actual first line of this post.  (Fist was a typo, but seemed to fit.  I keep losing letters from it. i . . .)

There are lots of good first lines, but this one spoke to me loudest as I went through the list.

41. The moment one learns English, complications set in.
I want to read that book.   I recently posted on the impact of one's language on how one knows and thinks.  It's a fundamental area of inquiry in this blog whose must basic theme is how we know what we know.

You'll have to go to the link to find out who wrote this one and the others.

Here are a few others:
20.  Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. 
I read #20 last year. 
28. Mother died today.
38. All this happened, more or less
45. I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story.
54. A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.
63. The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children's games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up
66.  "To be born again," sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, "first you have to die.

Some are pretty easy to figure out:

5. Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.

14. You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveler.

So, fellow bloggers.  After you write that first line of your next post, go back and figure out what your point is and how you can say it brilliantly.

1 comment:

  1. I like #54. I had a writing professor once who always said start in the middle or start at the end, don't ever start at the beginning. I had never thought of it before that time, but how often do you pick up a book that actually starts at the beginning of the story? Almost none of them do.


Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.