Michille: Should be Nano, But Not – First Lines Instead

NaNoI’m so glad Elizabeth’s NaNo is going well. Mine is in the toilet. Life interrupted. So my word count is way behind. I’m Team Mom for my son’s cross country team and they qualified for the state meet (yeah). And that means I’m spending my time organizing pasta parties for the girls and boys teams, ordering state meet food, and organizing the banquet (which includes menu, gifts, program, etc.) (boo). My posts this month were going to be about NaNo. But this one isn’t. Because NaNo is in the toilet this week.

So it’s about a bag of books my daughter brought home from work from a girl who knows she loves to read. We sat around the dining table after dinner tonight (last night for those reading this on Thursday) and read the first paragraphs of several of the books. We read for interest generated, story conflict exposed, and overall intrigue factor. There were several Debbie Macombers which I brushed off. I’ve read her stuff before and it’s great, but she doesn’t even open the bedroom door, much less close it after the kiss, and since I like sexual tension in stories and she doesn’t deliver, I wouldn’t otherwise have bothered with hers. There was a Nora Roberts that I’d read before and since she breaks a lot of rules, I wasn’t surprised that hers didn’t deliver the expected. We added in a Fern Michaels, an old Jane Evanovich, a Susan Wiggs, and a Jayne Ann Krentz. In the interest of brevity, I’m going with the first lines of these books. It was illuminating to discuss which first lines intrigued us into an interest in reading further. Here is what we read.

Janet Evanovich. Hero at Large.
Chris Nelson muttered an indiscernible oath and expelled a cloud of frost into the bone-chilling early-morning air.

Nora Roberts. Considering Kate.
It was going to be perfect.

Debbie Macomber. Those Christmas Angels.
Anne Fletcher pulled the last box of Christmas decorations from the closet in the spare bedroom.

Debbie Macomber. 50 Harbor Street.
Corrie McAfee was worried.

Fern Michaels. Balancing Act.
Soft night sounds and cool, whispering breezes at last persuaded her thickly lashed eyes to close in slumber.

Fern Michaels. The Scoop.
It was an event, there was no doubt about it.

Susan Wiggs. Table of Five.
“Hey, Miss Robinson, want to know how to figure out your porn-star name?” asked Russell Clark, bouncing on the balls of his feet toward the school bus.

Jayne Ann Krentz. Family Man.
Technically speaking, Luke Gilchrist was not a bastard.

I might try the Susan Wiggs because who doesn’t want to know their porn star name and I’ve always been a fan of Jayne Ann Krentz. Which one intrigues you enough to read more?

8 thoughts on “Michille: Should be Nano, But Not – First Lines Instead

  1. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m kind of glad your NaNo went into the toilet — this is a great post! First lines are so important, and I never really paid attention until our McDaniel’s class. Which is a pity, because I know writers work very hard on them.

    I liked the first line from “Those Christmas Angels” — I’m given a solid place and a fun holiday to land in. It sounds like something fun will happen. But I don’t like the title. It suggests some sappiness coming soon. I’d have to see the cover and read the blurb on the back to decide if I wanted to plunge forward.

    I liked Susan Wiggs’s, too. Bouncy and bright, and I knew I was getting a feisty teacher. (-: I like feisty teachers. The title is neutral for me. The author’s name rings a bell, and a rather nice one. (But I think I am misremembering. Maybe I haven’t read any Susan Wiggs. I’ve read a lot of Susan Wittig Albert, so Susan Wiggs gets automatic warm fuzzies from that (-:.)

    Family Man’s title and first words work very well together. And the word “technically” turns this into a huge story that I want to know more about. Why? Why? Why? The title/first word combo suggests there will be a happy ending to this situation, too. I really like a good happy ending!

    (-: Gee, that was fun! So, now that I’ve had my fun, I hope your NaNo gets back on track, or at least the writing waits patiently until you can tackle it again!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it. First lines are important. In some cases, the first paragraph was needed to expose more of what the story is about. I’m not giving up on NaNo. I may not make the word count but my goals were more about visiting my story every day and writing every day that getting the word count. I did write an allowable costs policy and a cash management policy at work this week because the day job is facing implementation of new Federal Uniform Grant Guidance (UGG – literally).

  2. Interesting mix Michille. A few of those lines did nothing for me – if I had picked them up in a bookstore, they’d have gone back on the shelf. On the other hand, Table For Five with it’s porn-star name opening offers an interesting invitation and Family Man caught me with its “Technically speaking.” Must go look through my own TBR pile and see if I have either of those books hanging about.

    Thanks for the fun diversion.

  3. Sorry about your NaNo time, Michille, but yay! for your son, and for this post. The Jayne Ann Krentz won for me, hands down. It’s about who the hero is, not what happens to him. Luke is some kind of a bastard, and as I guess he’s the hero, that’s intriguing. Kicking off with that premise and language means this is going be a strong kind of romance, intelligent, with lots of punch and counterpunch, and as a reader I’m already having to do a little work. I’d buy any book with a first line like that. My next favorite was the Susan Wiggs. It was bright and fun, loaded with energy. My least favorite was Balancing Act – whispering breezes, thickly lashed eyes and slumber suggest a girly, dreamy, romantic love story which is not my thing. I didn’t care for Those Christmas Angels either – the story promise was homey and Christmassy and warm. I like my romances tart, strong and funny.

    This was interesting. I’ve read a lot of articles about first sentences and the importance of hooking your reader. I hadn’t thought about them giving a clear signal to someone who isn’t your reader that it’s not their kind of book, but the sentences above did that job too. I think I have Family Man on my kindle. Must check and re-read.

    • Your favorites were mine also. The Fern Michaels opening has a women’s fiction feel to it. The importance of the first line was highlighted for me when I wrote this post. Having a list of them, some strong some not so much showed the strengths and weaknesses clearly.

    • Funny about characters swearing. Now I’m going to be reading for that. I just checked a couple of my favorite reads in which the hero is military and none of them start with the hero swearing. Frisco’s Kid, Suzanne Brockmann. Frisco’s knee was on fire. And he curses regularly in that book.

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