Friday, October 16, 2009

17 First Lines

When I'm at work and I have nothing to do/don't want to go find something to do, I hide in the English section and sneak-read bits of the good books. The other day I decided to make a study of the opening lines of all the fictional ones.

I discovered the following:

Of the 17 books...

1 forced me to read the rest of the paragraph.
3 were good, but I did manage to put the book back on the shelf.
2 were so long that they ran onto the next page.
7 described something (2 people, 5 weather), often with lots and lots of fluffy adjectives.
4 (5 actually, if we count the one that ran onto the second page) were the beginning of a backstory-dump. (1 of these dumps was interesting.)

0 began with dialogue.
0 began with an immediately evident high-conflict (or moderate-conflict) situation. (Although Golden Compass and Execution did come out with it pretty quick.)
0 began with any sort of interaction between characters.

Am I the only one who likes to open with the latter? Or are these statistics inevitable and purely resultant of the fact that I found these book in the English section of a university bookstore?

Thoughts, anyone?

I'd continue to ramble but I may be able to hash this out into a TWFT post for Sunday, so I'll stop now. :)

1 comment:

  1. I think you raise a good point. I haven't really read a book that starts immediately with the action. I don't either, I like to build up to it