Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Some Good Opening and Pickup Lines

It's pretty obvious to every writer (or it should be) that you want to keep the reader turning pages. Many times, we as writers focus on ending chapters with a punch, to keep the reader thinking, "I'll read just one more chapter and THEN I'll put the book down."

But it's equally as important to consider those first lines in a new chapter, where the story picks up. Not every chapter should simply continue where the last left off. A good story has ebb and flow, a dance, so to speak, a weavjng in and out of certain plottings, with the writer deciding that pace and intensity.

And those first few lines have to captivate the reader's interest.

As some examples, here are the beginning lines from the chapters I've completed so far in Before the Blood.

“Hurry, sir, oh please, hurry!”

He paused again, then reluctantly shut the accounts book. The third floor east wing was the last place he intended to step, but he supposed he must, if only to silence her persistent grating cry. So, the infant could die? So the mother could die? Well, what was that to him?

(Before the Blood, Prologue

The man in the long frock coat and extra-wide cravat had stared at her with peculiar steadiness all night, almost as if goading her to notice him. His defiant confidence intrigued her and caused those sneaky peeks to see if he was still watching.

(Before the Blood, John’s Story, Chapter 1: One Magical Christmas)





(Before the Blood,John’s Story, Chapter 2: Tasting Immortality)

John never practiced while his father was in the house, and only rarely when he was in town, but John bided his time, waiting for Abbott's departure for a long bank meeting, or even longer business trip, when he could seize the drawing room and fill it with compositions in progress. 

(Before the Blood. John’s Story. Chapter 3: Keys to Heaven)

"You fired Helsby!"

(Before the Blood John’s Story. Chapter 4: Maid to Order)

John woke well before dawn. Quickly and quietly, he washed, dressed, and then strode to the kitchen for a quick breakfast of bread and milk while the coffee boiled before heading to the barn and hitching a horse.

As he rode out to the Widow Holloway's farm, last night's conversation with Papa Everett swathed him like early morning mist on the verdure, a filmy presence he could not shake.

(Before the Blood, John’s Story, Chapter 5: Post-Graduate Studies)

If John had been any other young man, he would have rejoiced at the circumstances to which he had returned home. 

(Before the Blood John’s Story Chapter 6: Shedding the Cocoon)

"Come in!"

The heavy door opened, and the ruddy face of Alfred Jackson poked into the room. Virgil Gundersmith, in checks and white cowboy hat, stopped fiddling, but Ebenezer "Benny" Brown, sequins sparking in the lamplight, coolly kept each ball orbiting above his head.

(Before the Blood, John’s Story, Chapter 7: Music Halls and Garbage Cans)

It took over five years, but John's feverish reworking of elaborate compositions to include melodic refrains, monitoring audience response, and rewriting pieces after midnight for the next day's practice finally produced results.

(Before the Blood, John’s Story, Chapter 8: One for the Memory Books)

Although Falconer Cremmins was a hard man, and possibly a conniving murderous one, as  unproven rumors of arson spread throughout Queens, he also proved to be witless at business. In the year after Dana Hewes' death, attendance steadily dwindled at the music hall until Cremmins was forced to close its doors. 

(Before the Blood, John’s Story, Chapter 9: The Contract)

Shivering, John pulled the musty quilt over his head, but instead of soothing him back into sleep, the pattering rain reminded him that he had drunk far too much, far too many hours ago. With a groan, John kicked off the covers and staggered down hall to the communal water closet.

(Before the Blood, John’s Story, Chapter 10: Crossing the Rubicon)


It's all Metta knew. It's all Metta had ever known.

(Before the Blood Kellen’s Story Chapter 1: Ashes)

In later years, Kellen Weschler would tell it like this: The only door that ever opened to him was the womb, and even that was to spit him out into a cruel world where everything good, bad, and indifferent was denied him.

(Before the Blood Kellens Story Chapter 2 Forbidden Fruit)

Kellen married Catarin in May, enlarged the family hut in June, and baptized his first son, Allecke, in July.

Ten months later, the Wechslers welcomed their first daughter, Marige, into the world. Three more sons (Jurgen, Otto, Hilmar) and three more daughters (Eugell, Alheit, and Leveke) arrived one after the other. During that time, death also claimed Marige, Otto, and Eugell. After that, Kellen stopped noting the children's appearance or disappearance and let Catarin do the naming and tracking. 

(Before the Blood, Kellen's Story, Chapter 3: The Vision)


He ignored the voice and kept sharpening the blade. 

(Before the Blood, Kellen's Story, Chapter 4: Beaten Down)

"Wailing, wailing. Everywhere, wailing."

(Before the Blood, Kellen's Story, Chapter 5: Black Death)

"Come on, Kellen, we'll be late for the theater."

"In a minute, Margaret!"

(Before the Blood, Kellens Story, Chapter 6: Angel or Demon?)

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