Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pick up Lines

Not the sissy one liners that those idiotic, peacock, tail-feather-shaking boys spout when they're trying to work up enough courage to talk to a beautiful girl. No, I'm talking about the pick up line to a book: the first line on the very first page.

The first impression, if you will.

I have to admit, I've never put much stock into these pick up lines. I might be guilty of judging a book by its cover every now and again, but I definitely don't consider myself as one to judge a book by the first line.

But apparently, its important.

So important, that Writing Guru harps on it at least once every week. Agents, he says, need to be hooked by the first line.

Which never really made sense to me, because (once again) judging a book by the first line isn't really my thing. I usually give the book a good page or two before I decide whether or not I want to buy or borrow it, and then 100 times that length before I reject or read to the end. In fact to say I don't judge would be an understatement. The truth of the matter is that I rarely (if ever) even notice the quality of the first line.

Then again, I don't make my living rejecting thousands of manuscripts.

ANYWAY, the point of my ramblings, is that I finally realized what Writing Guru means when he says the first line is so important. I just finished reading the Gargoyle, by Andrew Davidson. It was absolutely fantastic. My advice to you: go read it. And while I'm slightly jealous that he managed to pull a 1.5 million dollar advance for this book (his FIRST book, mind you), that's all beside the point. For the first time since Charles Dickens's "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." I finally noticed a first line.

The first line of the Gargoyle was:

"Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, often violently, just like love."

You're a heartless goat if you don't want to keep reading after a line like that. (Why a goat? I don't know. It was the first thing that came to mind).

Anyway, this line was so compelling, it got me thinking that maybe Writing Guru DOES know what he's talking about when he says the first line is important. Considering there are competitors like Andrew Davidson running around the literary arena, I think I might need to reevaluate the quality of my own pick up line. Quite frankly: this girl needs to do a little tail feather shaking of her own.


Barbara Kloss said...

I hear ya! I also don't stop reading a book after line one - I will give a book about 30 pages before calling it quits. Then again, I'm not an agent. And all the advice from agents is how crucial those first 250 words are! I've come to the conclusion that those first 250 words are more important for the debut author than the previously pubbed. We're trying to get noticed.

That IS a fabulous first line you posted. I'll have to add that book to my list. (it grows exponentially.)

New follower!

Julie said...

Funny thing: sometimes I feel like I HAVE to give a book more than a few pages, just because transitioning from one book to another is difficult for me. I get SO engrossed in one story that it's hard for me to believe that another book could be just as compelling! Of course, turns out, the new book is usually good too ( : It just takes me a while to get used to the idea!

Also, its so true... I keep imagining how easy life will be once we get published and don't have to try as hard to turn heads. Its a nice dream, right?! Haha.

Excited for a new follower!

Paul said...

Heres my pick up line for you Julie. 'How much does a polar bear weigh? .... Enough to break the ice!' haha probably not what you were looking for tho

Julie said...

Please tell me you've actually tried that on a girl... It will totally make my day!

Paul said...

haha no but i should... see how ice flows ;)

Julie said...

Heehee. You're such a goober!