Friday, March 04, 2011

Friday Forays in Fiction: Book Beginnings

It is probably the best known, most often emphasized advice from authors, teachers, and editors that the opening sentences of a story must grab the reader and pull them in or they will never see the second page. So I thought I would take the opportunity of Friday Forays in Fiction to introduce a new meme that fits right into the theme of reading and writing fiction:

Book Beginnings
is hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages. Share the first lines of the book you are reading. Then, share your impressions of that beginning.

The first lines of Take One Candle, Light a Room by Susan Straight:

I keep the two photos on the ebony sideboard in my small dining room.

The first is black-and-white, but has taken on that edgy silvery-brown look of a gelatin print. It is Louisiana, 1958. The five young women stand beside a truck with a curved hood, the word Apache in chrome letters beside my mother's hip.

They are sixteen. They are leaving their homes.

Yeah, I know, that was a few more than a couple first lines. But a few weeks ago in Library Loot I shared the entire following paragraph, calling it the clincher that caused me to add this book to my already burgeoning stack after I'd stood right there in front of the new books shelf and read the entire first chapter. That paragraph was a description of the girls in the photo that not only made you see them as though you held that photo in your hand but made you feel like you knew them. I was remembering that as I began this post, thinking that was the paragraph I would be sharing here. I'd forgotten there were lines preceding it.

That gave me pause at first but then I realized that those first lines, as I quoted them above, had drawn me into that paragraph by setting the context and winding up its walloping punch.

Susan Straight is a master of the beginning.

Even so that book has sat on the shelf for over six weeks as I chased due dates of items checked out in previous weeks. And fulfilled other commitments. This week is its turn.

1 tell me a story:

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