The first line

Early this evening, as I was driving home from Northcote, I listened to Nick Earls on ABC Radio’s The Bookshow talking about ‘first lines’. It’s taken me many books to fully understand the impact of the first line. When I was ten years old, a not very literate nine-year old friend told me if a book didn’t grab her in the first line, she tossed it. I remember feeling slightly outraged and a little alarmed at the prospect of showing her one of my stories.

All these reflections on first lines reminded me of a meme that was floating around last year that was posted on many of the writerly blogs I follow. So, belatedly, here’s a list of first lines from my novels, some which I like better than others:

  1. Gus lay listening in the dark. Zarconi’s Magic Flying Fish
  2. It was three o’clock in the morning. Market Blues
  3. Pauline finished colouring in the centre of the last ‘o’ on page 26 of her English book and looked up as the classroom door swung open. Walking Home with Marie-Claire
  4. ‘Bad scran to you, evil prince,’ said Bridie, thrusting her stick at Brandon. ‘Pick up your weapon and I’ll kill you three times over!’ Bridie’s Fire
  5. Paddy opened the carriage window and stuck his head out, feeling the cold wind whip his face. Becoming Billy Dare
  6. Colm took the stairs two at a time, his feet pounding on the dark timber. A Prayer for Blue Delaney
  7. So – time to talk to the dead!’ said Maeve. The Secret Life of Maeve Lee Kwong
  8. Callum felt the rumble of roadtrains, and froze. Vulture’s Gate

But perhaps my slickest opening line is from my ninth novel, India Dark:

Daisy opened her mouth and lies flew out.

I think it might just be my favourite.

Kirsty is an Australian author of books for children and young adults.

“Books are windows into other ways of being.”

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