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Do you agree?


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  • One of my favourite opening lines is from Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen.

     "I am ninety. Or ninety-three. One or the other." 

    I like it because it's intriguing and raises questions: Who's speaking? We can see someone with attitude, determined, not letting old age ailments such as lack of memory bother him / her. It has got a distinctive voice and hints at strong character.

    I don't know if it lives up to its promise, because I've not read the novel. Apparently the author penned down the first draft during a NaNoWriMo.

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    • 'Water for Elephants' is one of my all time favourite novels. Epic, circus, fair ground, great characters, tragic and hilarious, love story, coming of age, friendship, a story which actually happens (don't get me started on novels with a whole chapter devoted to a character alighting from a train, not my thang), oh and the elephant. 

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    • The first para has to draw the reader in in a way that doesn't disappoint them later. There are no other rules. Don't get too obsessed by it.

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      • Literally none of my opening paragraphs tick these boxes. Sounds exhausting! 

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        • A good hook is one thing, but personally, I think there is a case for not overloading your reader with so much information in one sentence/paragraph that they have to re-read it to take it all in! 

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          • That's a very good point. I often get annoyed with opening paras and opening chapters, where I need to go back and reread to get the gist of it. Simple and sure start is best with loads of meaning. It's amazing how we can write deep ideas with simple words.

            The 4 pillars of good writing: Simplicity, Clarity, Brevity and Humanity. That's my list. I like it, it woks for me not only for beginings but for the whole novel too.

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          • I think one of the masters of the first line as a hook was Dick Francis. One that comes to mind is Rat Race, where the hero is a pilot.

              "I picked four of them up at Whit Waltham in the new Cherokee Six 300 that never got a chance to grow old."

            You couldn't not read on after that, could you? 

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            • No, neither am I. I haven't even read them all... 

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              • I write in a similar vein to Dick Francis & many reviews chose to compare me to him,   That's a wonderful compliment!

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                • Yes, it was very exciting (it was mostly done in a complimentary way 🤣) If only I had had a quarter of his success, though! 

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                • Oh yes yes.  Dick Francis has some wonderful opening lines - and gripping bits thereafter

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                  • I've always admired the way he could describe a place or person in one, clever sentence. He also had the knack of covering boring but necessary links between scenes in a similarly neat way. A real master of his craft! 

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