We all make lists of our favorite books whether we write the lists down or hold them in our heads. However, can we pinpoint exactly what we liked about that book? For me, it's the story and voice. Yet as a writer, I know that the actual writing (the grammar, sentence structure, word choice) all play a part in making that story unique.
If you're reading this blog right now, chances are you are reading at least one book. Go get it. Open it up to the first page. Read the first few lines. What grabs you? Can you clearly hear the narrator's voice in your head? Can you picture the scene, smell, taste or feel anything described? If this is a book you are enjoying, you probably answered yes to at least one of those questions.
Now, read those lines again. No, take out a notebook and pencil, and copy down each sentence. Study them. What is their structure? If you want to write great literature, you must read great literature.
Study these amazing first lines from YA novels. What do you like about them? What makes them work? How can you harness their power in your own writing?
Pay particular attention to what each narrator promises the reader.
The promise of authority or confidence:
"I've confessed to everything, and I'd like to be hanged. Now, if you please." CHIME by Franny Billingsley
"It's a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen
The promise of humor or sarcasm:
"Even before he got electrocuted, Jason was having a rotten day." THE LOST HERO by Rick Riordan
"There is no lake at Camp Green Lake." HOLES by Louis Sachar
The promise of something bad:
"Anything can happen in the blink of an eye." ABANDON by Meg Cabot
"The best time to cry is at night when the lights are out and someone is being beaten up and screaming for help." MONSTER by Walter Dean Meyers
The promise of something good:
"The way I figure it, everyone gets a miracle." PAPER TOWNS by John Green
"There once was a young man who wished to gain his Heart's Desire." STARDUST by Neil Gaiman
The promise of a past and future:
"I used to be someone." THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX by Mary E. Pearson
"My name is Francis Joseph Cassavant and I have just returned to Frenchtown in Monument and the war is over and I have no face." - HEROES by Robert Cormier
Now that you've read some well-constructed lines, it's time to write a few of your own. Share yours below!