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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Hook, Line, and Sinker: That Great Opening Line of a Book

Like most of you, I enjoy a few self-indulgences every now and again: Starbucks coffee with lots of whipped cream, recently watching Travis Fimmel (Ragnar Lothbrok) from the History Channel's new amazing series VIKINGS, shopping at Hobby Lobby, and sitting down to read a great romance.

I especially can't resist a book when I open the first page (or cue forward on my kindle) and come across a great first line or paragraph. You know the kind...the one that grabs your attention and forces you to keep your nose buried until the last word is read.

We all know how "first impressions" are so important when meeting someone, whether it's for a job interview, a book signing, or even a blind date. For me, making a good first impression with a person is equivalent to making a smashing entrance with an attention-grabbing sentence in a romance novel. It's the difference between losing a reader to boredom or disinterest and holding them prisoner with a few carefully well thought-out lines.

Here are a few of my favorites:

 As an adolescent girl, I voraciously read V.C. Andrews. Her Dollanganger Series was a serious page turner, but the one line I remembered so vividly is from the second book in the series, PETALS ON THE WIND:

 How young we were the day we escaped. 

It kept me reading well into the wee hours when I should have been in bed sleeping.

If you open the book CONTENTMENT by humorously witty author Margaret Ethridge, the first lines read:

The cursor blinked, the little bastard. The flashing line taunted her, all but double-dog daring her to click the link.

At that moment, even I was rooting for the heroine to just click the damn thing!

Another favorite of mine is by Elizabeth Lowell in her book FORBIDDEN:

He will come to you in shades of darkness. The words of the dire prophecy rang in Amber’s mind as she looked at the naked, powerful man whom Sir Erik had dumped senseless at her feet.

How can anyone read that a powerful, naked man was just thrown at the heroine’s feet and not find out why? (and of course, why the man is nude) Ingenious!

And who could forget the notorious line from TWILIGHT by Stephenie Meyer:

I’d never given much thought to how I would die—though I’d had reason enough in the last few months—but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.

That darn line sucked me in (even though for three months prior I had refused to read a YA vampire story in first person POV.) After reading that line and exasperatingly sighing (because I knew I’d been defeated by my own curiosity) I read the whole four-book series in about a month.

When I asked my friend what great first line she still remembers from all the books she's read over the years, she quoted the opening sentences from my contemporary romance, SILENT PARTNER:

There he was. Shaking his cute little ass on the dance floor of Gyrations, the hippest night club in downtown Boston, amid a flock of beautiful women.

Of course, I had to laugh. But for her, I went ahead and featured it because she gave me such a humbling, yet humorous compliment. "How can you not want to read more about this guy and his cute little ass?"

Posing the question to myself, if I had to choose an attention-grabbing paragraph from one of my books, I'd have to go with THE START OF SOMETHING GOOD by my alter ego, Gracie Lee Rose:

“You’re such a jerk!” The malicious tone and volume of a woman’s complaint caused my head to turn in the direction of the chaos a few doors down the hall of my apartment complex. After whipping her scarf around her neck in finality, the angered woman trudged down the corridor. A man, who I assume was the jerk in question, pursued her. At this moment, I realized their argument was not meant for my eyes or ears. The guy showed up for the fight in nothing but a towel. His weapons of choice were bare hands, bare feet, and dripping-wet, wavy brown hair. His muscled chest and arms boasted the remnants of a golden summer tan, even in late November.

But the all-time favorite of mine is still from my "first born" historical romance, RÆLIKSEN:

I shall marry this woman, Dægan Ræliksen decided. It had been over a fortnight since he first followed her through the green meadows to the waters of the River Shannon, watching her with intent. Observing her gave him great pleasure, and every day he anticipated her arrival, secretly longing to hold her in his arms. Only lately did he grow impatient with his desire for her, and this day, he settled on, would finally be the day he’d put his suffering to an end and make her his wife.

I still get chills reading that. (rolls eyes)


Today, I featured a few gripping lines that have stood out for me over the years and I'd love to hear what great first lines yanked you into a book and held you there until it was finished. Don't forget to name the author too so I can check them out. (As if I really need more books to add to my TBR list -- ha!)

Renee Vincent
http://www.reneevincent.com/

Oh, and by the way, I just remodeled my website so if you haven't checked it out, I'd love for you to hop on over and see the work I've done.

Have a great week!

14 comments:

Tina Donahue said...

Great choices, Renee! :)

Liz said...

The hook really matters. thanks for sharing your favs.

Sarah Hoss said...

These were fun to read. Thanks for posting this! I can't what to see what's picked next.

Melissa said...

Great idea Renee. You had me going through all of the books on my shelf. LOL

Polly McCrillis said...

Great first lines! My choice among so many is from Karen Moning's "Into the Dreaming" from her Highlander series:


928

Not quite Scotland

It was a land of shadows and ice.

Of gray. And grayer. Of black.

Deep in the shadows lurked inhuman creatures, twisted of limb and hideous of countenance. Things one did well to avoid seeing.

Should the creatures enter the pale bars of what passed for light in the terrible place, they would die, painfully and slowly. As would he-the mortal Highlander imprisoned within the columns of sickly light-should he succeed in breaking the chains that held him and seek escape through those terrifying shadows.

Renee Vincent / Gracie Lee Rose said...

Wow, Polly, what a great opening scene from Karen Moning! Thanks for posting that!!!

Thanks Tina!

My pleasure, Liz!


This post was so much fun, Sarah. Lots of books I had on my shelves and sifted through took me back to so many fond memories when I read those great reads.

Melissa, I'm so glad I could make you reminisce and search through your collections. At least I know I'm not the only one.

Deanna Jewel said...

Hi Renee! Thanks for showing us great examples of those opening lines that pull readers into books, that set the stage before we finish page one and can't wait to read more! I loved Silent Partner! Those characters still live in my mind...thank you for that!

Melissa Keir said...

That hook is so important. It can make or break my interest right away!

jean hart stewart said...

great post...I give a book the first paragraph to get hooked, but the first sentence is all important.

Renee Vincent / Gracie Lee Rose said...

Deanna: You just made my day with that compliment. I'm so overjoyed you liked Silent Partner that much. Thanks for visiting with me!

Melissa and Jean: Indeed! I always open the book to the first page before I buy and read that first paragraph - even before I read the blurb on the back!

VICKI BATMAN, said...

Hi, Renee! I loved reading about your favorite hooks.

Renee Vincent / Gracie Lee Rose said...

Thanks Vicki! I loved sharing them. So nice to see you here on RB4U blog!

Margaret said...

Fabulous post. These are some great lines. I'm so honored that you chose one of mine! *dances* Thank you!

Renee Vincent / Gracie Lee Rose said...

Oh Margaret you know how I love your books! And that first couple sentences of Contentment had me hooked like a unsuspecting fish.

Thanks for continuing to write those awesome romance novels!

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