On Opening Lines

So this week on the YA Rebels we are talking about opening lines, and I share the first line of THE NEAR WITCH (and its previous incarnations). Which isn’t TERRIBLY exciting.

What IS exciting is that next week I will be reading THE FIRST PAGE AND A HALF.

You guys. I am kind of excited about that.

Until then, enjoy my thoughts on opening lines, and hear the beginning of THE NEAR WITCH!

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16 thoughts on “On Opening Lines

  1. Nadine says:

    I loved hearing the different stages of the first line. And I’m very excited to hear the first page and a half next week!

    For the original first line – the wind on the moors is a tricky thing – did it end up elsewhere in the book?

    • veschwab says:

      Gah such a good question I can’t believe I forgot to answer this in the original vlog. Yes, “The wind on the moors is a tricky thing” will come up in next week’s reading, so it made the first two pages 🙂

  2. I know I’ve probably told you too many times already, but holy macaroni – I am so, so excited for THE NEAR WITCH. One line and I’m drooling. For the record, I hate saying that – drooling – because it’s so unappealing and sounds so… well, ridiculous. But it is most definitely true and I can’t think of a word that looks good and fits as well!

    • veschwab says:

      Awww, this totally makes my night (and it needed making). Seriously, Sara. I can’t wait to share it with you! And I hope it doesn’t disappoint!

  3. Funny how you post this just after I was talking to someone about one of my favorite short-story opening lines. ^_^ I happen to like your original opening line best, as it is somewhat stylistic and evokes a certain reaction from me, but I’m also (a) an atypical reader and (b) not likely to have the reaction you were expecting or going for, so I can completely understand changing it. Of course, the other two versions given retain variations on the same effect, so that’s good.

    For the record, I was telling a friend about the first line from William Gibson’s “Johnny Mnemonic”, which goes like this: “I put the shotgun in an Adidas bag and padded it out with four pairs of tennis socks, not my style at all, but that was what I was aiming for: If they think you’re crude, go technical; if they think you’re technical, go crude.” Very much a grounding in the physical before getting to the abstract, so you’re in good company there.

    • veschwab says:

      The original opening is still in the book, on the next page, so it wasn’t taken out so much as put in a place that better served the story 🙂

  4. Raven says:

    Opening lines are so tricky for me. In the first draft of my novel, opening sentence was the first words in the book, and I was SO in love with them, that I tried to wrap my story around that one sentence, only to find out in the second draft that “Okay, that’s not going to work.”

    Now, I have a new line that’s hopefully going to work, and fit into the story the way I want it to, because first lines are very important.

    I really liked all of your opening lines, and your final first line definitely would make me want to continue reading on, so I’m so excited that you’re allowed to share the first page and a half!

    • veschwab says:

      Yay, I’m glad!

      And yes, opening lines are HARD. They can change, a lot, in each draft, in edits, etc. And of course we get attached to them, but we also want to make them PERFECT because it’s the first impression!

  5. Kait Nolan says:

    Oh I really like that notion about each opening line opening a door. That’s so apt and lovely.

  6. yvette says:

    I did a writing course this year where our teacher had worked in a publisher’s office. She scared us all silly by saying that quite often the reality is the editor never gets past the opening line. If you’ve failed there, you’ve lost your chance!
    However, must admit I’m the same, I’m quite picky about opening lines that interest me. And I’ll often check out which book I want to read in the library by how good the opening line is… so it is vital to get it right

    • veschwab says:

      It’s true, first lines are absolutely VITAL. I read the first line of any book I pick up. Sometimes if it’s not strong enough I skip to the first line of the next paragraph. If it’s still weak, I most likely don’t buy.

  7. In my writing, as well as books that I buy, I am completely obsessed with opening lines. I probably put too much emphasis on them, actually. But I love yours–all three of them, actually. I love hearing other writers and authors processes. Thanks for sharing!!

    And I’m super excited to hear the first pages of The Near Witch. Your book’s premise is so intriguing to me. I can’t wait to read it.

  8. Totally agree with you about judging books by the first pages and even opening lines. I’m kind of a bit obsessed with “hooks” and analysing WHAT is it about the first 250 – 500 words that hooks the reader in. I’ve re written the beginning of my story SO many times now, then realised it wasn’t working because I started with the wrong MC (DOH!) and now I’m happy with the first line (for now).

    I love hearing about your process and I’m really looking forward to watching you read the first page and a half! Exciting stuff! Also, when are you doing the cover reveal? I know you’ve seen it 😉

    • veschwab says:

      I actually haven’t seen my final cover! I’ve seen the concept, and a few behind-the-scenes shots, but I too am waiting for the reveal. Hopefully soon!

  9. Kim Mills says:

    What a great first line. It’s a grabber!

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