What’s a girl like you doing in a place like this?
So I have a title for my book – hurrah! – but I’m stuck at the opening chapter. Did I say chapter? I meant line. I’m stuck at how to kick this sucker off.
I don’t think has happened to me before. With my first two novels the beginning just sort of came to me. The right sentence literally fell from my fingers. But this time … I’m feeling a bit “ugh”. And when I have the right opening sentence I always know. You just feel it.
But maybe I’m putting too much importance on the first sentence? Who am I kidding? I often decide whether or not I’m going to buy a book based on that first line. The question is, do most writers always have a great opening line in their first draft?
One of my favourite first lines is from Venero Armanno’s Firehead: “She used to sell her kisses for caramels; her lips went for long licks of licorice and her touch for tangerines and tutti frutti” ( At least I think that’s the first line).
Then there’s “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Or “They shoot the white girl first”. Toni Morrison, Paradise.
Perhaps I just need to write “a shitty first draft” (to quote Anne Lamott). Or do I hold out for perfection? Or do I go eat some chocolate and hope the answer comes to me?
Yeah. Think I’ll go for the chocolate …
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Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.