Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Romance Weekly: Great Beginnings

Love to read romance? Want to know more about how your favorite authors created all those sizzling love affairs you secretly devour? Each week, the authors of Romance Writers Weekly host a fun-filled blog hop, where they chat about everything under the sun. Best of all? You're all invited to join in on the fun. 

If you found me by way of Gemma Brocato http://www.gemmabrocato.com/blog, you're in the right place. Welcome! I hope you enjoy your stay. 

This week's challenge was issued by the ever lovely Sarah Hegger: 

Great Beginnings - A great opening line draws the reader in, makes them want to know more and compels them to read further. Share a great opening line, can be a classic or a more recent novel, tell us why you like it and then share the opening line to your newest WIP.

I am so excited about this week's challenge. Like, seriously, too excited to sit still kind of excitement. I love getting the chance to share my favorite stories with people. Especially people who are taller than 4'5 and older than 10. Sarah's totally crazy if she thinks I'll be able to restrain myself to sharing only one great opening!

I'm going to start off with sharing the opening line from my favorite classic novel.

1984 by George Orwell
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. 

Thirteen? Such a simple detail, and yet through that one single word, Orwell conveys so much about this new world that he'd dreamt up. It's a line that sticks with you over the years, or at least it did for me. 

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White"Where's Papa going with that ax?" said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.

Arguably one of the most popular children's book ever, this first line is enough to send a shiver up your spine. The image of the ax, and the terrible foreboding of the damage and death it can cause, seems oddly misplaced in a children's book, yet it acts as the catalyst for the entire plot. 

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron
I still remember the day my father took me to the cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time. It was 1945, and we walked through the streets of Barcelona trapped beneath ashen skies as dawn poured over Rambla de Santa Monica in a wreath of liquid copper. 

I'll admit. I never actually finished reading this book, but the beauty of the writing has stuck with me since I skimmed that first page. The imagery is fabulous and the author has a wonderful way with words. Unfortunately, this book isn't an easy read. Someday, I will tackle this book, if for no other reason, than to bolster my vocabulary and get lost in a world foreign to me.

Dying For A Living by Kory M. Shrum
"Good morning, Mr. Reynolds." I used my best sing-song voice. "Are you ready to die today?"

Um, hell yeah. I love this opening. It perfectly sets up the story and you can't help but want to read on. 

Spy School by Stuart Gibbs
"Hello, Ben," said the man in my living room. "My name is Alexander Hale. I work for the CIA."

And just like that, my life became interesting.

It hadn't been, up till then. Not by a long shot. That day had been a prime example: day 4,583, seven months into the twelfth year of my mundane existence. I had dragged myself out of bed, eaten breakfast, gone to middle school, been bored in class, stared at girls I was too embarrassed to approach, had lunch, slogged through gym, fallen asleep in math, been harassed by Dirk the Jerk, taken the bus home . . . 

And found a man in a tuxedo sitting on the couch. 

Um, hello?! In less than a page, we know everything we need to know about Ben's life. We know that he's good with numbers, is shy, has been bullied, and yet, his life is about to take a dramatic turn, either for the better or worse, or possibly both. 

By far, this novel is my current favorite. I've read it multiple times now, and each time I glean something new about writing. In fact, my students enjoyed this book so much, that they now steal my only copy of the sequel, Spy Camp, desperately trying to find out what happens next. Last week, four boys snagged the book off my desk and dove under a table for a fast sneak peek. It was hysterical and heartening all at once. The Spy School series has turned even my most reluctant readers into avid readers. Who could ask for more?

Now, it's my turn to share the opening from my current, and as of yet untitled, WIP.
The pounding pop music that emanated from the charter school across the street, seeped into Mateo’s brain, disrupting his sleep for the fourth time in the past week. Who in their right mind holds a daily dance off at seven in the frickin' morning?!  
"Enough with the damn Katy Perry music," he growled as he tossed back the covers. 
This opening line probably won't even make the cut in the long run. I've just begun working on this new storyline, so everything is very raw right now. But at least it's a start, right?

Up next on the RWW Blog Hop? Leslie Hachtel http://lesliehachtelwriter.wordpress.com. Hop on over and to check out the great beginnings she discovered. And don't forget to come back Thursday to help me show author Patti Fiala some love!

See ya soon! 


  1. Ok. Now I have to read Spy School. Re: yours: even in draft form, it's a good opener!

    1. Thank you, Kim. And I promise, you will LOVE Spy School. It's the best.

  2. Great start, Elizabeth. I could hear the Katy Perry song.

    1. Every Friday, our school plays music early in the morning. The kids really love dancing, but I always wonder what the residents who live across the street think about the early morning wake up call.

  3. Great opening! I remember that line from 1984. I read that book as a kid and loved it. =)

    1. I remember my senior honors English class. We read 1984, Frankenstein, Animal Farm, and Of Mice and Men. All four have stuck with me over the years.

  4. Loved The Shadow of the Wind, a memorable book and not just the opening line :D

    Yours was great, and you can really sympathise with the character quickly!

    1. Thanks, Mishka. The Shadow of the Wind is a book meant to be savored, not powered through. It's definitely on my to-do list for this summer.

  5. An opening line that sticks me right into the story, love it!!!

    1. Thank you, J.J. Now I need to work on increasing that word count.