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:
- Gus lay listening in the dark. Zarconi’s Magic Flying Fish
- It was three o’clock in the morning. Market Blues
- 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
- ‘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
- Paddy opened the carriage window and stuck his head out, feeling the cold wind whip his face. Becoming Billy Dare
- Colm took the stairs two at a time, his feet pounding on the dark timber. A Prayer for Blue Delaney
- So – time to talk to the dead!’ said Maeve. The Secret Life of Maeve Lee Kwong
- 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.