I love to read the first line in a book. It sets the stage for what is to come. It is one of the most important lines in any book along with the first paragraph and beginning pages. The reader looks at these lines first or maybe right after skimming the book jacket. With today’s fast paced world it has to hook the reader or most will not hang on for the ride. Here are a handful of my favorites:

AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS (Gennifer Choldenko) Today I moved to a twelve-acre rock covered with cement, topped with bird turd and surrounded by water.

DEAD END IN NORVELT (Jack Gantos) School was finally out and I was standing on a picnic table in our backyard getting ready for a great summer vacation when my mother walked up to me and ruined it.

SOUP (Robert Newton Peck) Dear Mrs. Peck, Your son made a rude remark to Miss Boland, our school nurse.

THE WEDNESDAY WARS (Gary D. Schmidt) Of all the kids in the seventh grade at Camillo Junior High, there was one kid that Mrs. Baker hated with heat whiter than sun.

TURTLE IN PARADISE (Jennifer L. Holm) Everyone thinks children are as sweet as Necco Wafers, but I’ve lived long enough to know the truth: kids are rotten.

How can you not read on? All of these starters pushed me to turn the pages. They all share one key component: conflict.

I wrestled endlessly with my first line in AWESOME SAUCE. It probably has been changed a dozen times. I’m happy with the way it ended up so for the first time here is my first line:

One glimpse out the bedroom window and a perfect problem free day came to a screeching halt.

            Of course the first line is the hook but you have to keep it going through every chapter and then there is the ending. An equally challenging task.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...writing middle grade novels.
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