Und Now Ve Begin, Ya?

Edith_layton2_2

All the best first lines are taken.

“Call me Ishmael”

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”

“In the beginning .”

And the ever popular, “Once upon a time.”

I got a million of them, because there are a million and a half great and famous first lines. It makes it hard for any author when they’re up against these classics. But if you tell a story it has to begin somewhere.
I used to start with weather. I like atmosphere. I’m not a thousand years old, but I remember that novels used to start by setting the stage. Misty moors, foggy city streets, murky alleys, chill winds whistling around the house, brilliantly sunny mornings with meadows for heroines to dance through, and rapturously starry nights for lovers to meet and smooch in.

But they (read: editors, readers, critics) don’t want atmosphere anymore. And to tell the truth, most of the Great Firsts aren’t about atmosphere. Of course, maybe the most famous one of all is.

“It was a dark and stormy night.”

Snoopy_2

For some reason, a crackerjack opening like that isn’t wanted anymore. Poor Snoopy. No, today’s reader must be hooked from word one, and whatever weather is – its not a hook. So the author has a choice: start with what? A blank page filled with something that will entice: a lure, a bit of bait, a strange or familiar circumstance that will make the reader turn – the – page.

Rain won’t do that.
So I changed. I began to start with characters, since they are the reason for the book. In fact, in looking back (which youre not supposed to do in a new year) nevertheless, I discovered my last trillion books or so start with a character in a time, place or situation that I hope will entice my readers to find out what Im going on about, and what’s going to happen next.

Now after browsing through my books, I realize I have sometimes aced it with first paragraphs. I could positively slay you with those! But I promised first lines, and so I gird my loins and here we go:

“‘I do,’ she said, and only then wondered what she had done.”
TO WED A STRANGER Avon Books

“Good Lord, but he was beautiful.”
BRIDE ENCHANTED Avon Books
Bride_enchanted

“Bedamned to all men, the young woman said angrily. “I’ll marry and be done with them!”
HOW TO SEDUCE A BRIDE- Avon Books (OK – sue me, two lines.)

“Only one wedding guest was frowning”
THE CHANCE, Avon Books

“The fish and fowl had been brought in; now the company looked for red meat.”
– Me writing as Edith Felber, QUEEN OF SHADOWS, NAL

Now I offer you a chance to win an oldish book. In fact, the very first book I ever wrote for AVON. If that’s not hint enough, the first line is:

“She was enjoying herself until she saw the man watching her.”

Got it? If you do, then tell us here, and a perfectly neutral arbitrator will choose one of you to get a signed copy of said book! Extra hint: it began a loosely linked series; several book titles starting with the third letter of the alphabet. And there was a top hat on the cover. ‘Nuff said!

As for the new, 2007 book coming out? Thats in May. The 27th of May to be exact. (Please tattoo that somewhere upon your adorable person so you dont forget.)
And the first line of HIS DARK AND DANGEROUS WAYS is:

“‘As you were saying?’ the lady cooed to her gentleman caller when he paused for a moment.”

None of this is exactly “Call Me Ishmael.”
Whale_2

I know that. But I tried. Those lines were written to begin a story and tempt you to go on and read it.

Did I succeed?

85 thoughts on “Und Now Ve Begin, Ya?”

  1. recently won a lovely edith title, so only came here to say: absolutely, those lines tempt me to go on! please keep producing them!
    and, IMHO – i always get hung up on the ishmael line. rather than going on, i stop to wonder how to pronouce it properly.

    Reply
  2. recently won a lovely edith title, so only came here to say: absolutely, those lines tempt me to go on! please keep producing them!
    and, IMHO – i always get hung up on the ishmael line. rather than going on, i stop to wonder how to pronouce it properly.

    Reply
  3. recently won a lovely edith title, so only came here to say: absolutely, those lines tempt me to go on! please keep producing them!
    and, IMHO – i always get hung up on the ishmael line. rather than going on, i stop to wonder how to pronouce it properly.

    Reply
  4. recently won a lovely edith title, so only came here to say: absolutely, those lines tempt me to go on! please keep producing them!
    and, IMHO – i always get hung up on the ishmael line. rather than going on, i stop to wonder how to pronouce it properly.

    Reply
  5. recently won a lovely edith title, so only came here to say: absolutely, those lines tempt me to go on! please keep producing them!
    and, IMHO – i always get hung up on the ishmael line. rather than going on, i stop to wonder how to pronouce it properly.

    Reply
  6. Hi Edith. I’m tempted and tattoo in place, lol, can’t wait to read the new one.
    It’s The Cad. When I went searching for that series several years ago, it took time to find them all, and forever to finally get my hands on a well-worn copy of The Cad so I could then read them all in order.
    Enjoy the weekend.

    Reply
  7. Hi Edith. I’m tempted and tattoo in place, lol, can’t wait to read the new one.
    It’s The Cad. When I went searching for that series several years ago, it took time to find them all, and forever to finally get my hands on a well-worn copy of The Cad so I could then read them all in order.
    Enjoy the weekend.

    Reply
  8. Hi Edith. I’m tempted and tattoo in place, lol, can’t wait to read the new one.
    It’s The Cad. When I went searching for that series several years ago, it took time to find them all, and forever to finally get my hands on a well-worn copy of The Cad so I could then read them all in order.
    Enjoy the weekend.

    Reply
  9. Hi Edith. I’m tempted and tattoo in place, lol, can’t wait to read the new one.
    It’s The Cad. When I went searching for that series several years ago, it took time to find them all, and forever to finally get my hands on a well-worn copy of The Cad so I could then read them all in order.
    Enjoy the weekend.

    Reply
  10. Hi Edith. I’m tempted and tattoo in place, lol, can’t wait to read the new one.
    It’s The Cad. When I went searching for that series several years ago, it took time to find them all, and forever to finally get my hands on a well-worn copy of The Cad so I could then read them all in order.
    Enjoy the weekend.

    Reply
  11. Edith, is it The Cad? Loved Queen of Shadows, BTW. Just getting ready to read Bride Enchanted and looking forward to a nice quiet weekend with it.

    Reply
  12. Edith, is it The Cad? Loved Queen of Shadows, BTW. Just getting ready to read Bride Enchanted and looking forward to a nice quiet weekend with it.

    Reply
  13. Edith, is it The Cad? Loved Queen of Shadows, BTW. Just getting ready to read Bride Enchanted and looking forward to a nice quiet weekend with it.

    Reply
  14. Edith, is it The Cad? Loved Queen of Shadows, BTW. Just getting ready to read Bride Enchanted and looking forward to a nice quiet weekend with it.

    Reply
  15. Edith, is it The Cad? Loved Queen of Shadows, BTW. Just getting ready to read Bride Enchanted and looking forward to a nice quiet weekend with it.

    Reply
  16. I’ve loved every line of your books and The Cad is one of my all time favorites, not to mention ‘To Wed A Stranger’ and ‘The Duke’s Wager’. I’m sure you get the picture by now.

    Reply
  17. I’ve loved every line of your books and The Cad is one of my all time favorites, not to mention ‘To Wed A Stranger’ and ‘The Duke’s Wager’. I’m sure you get the picture by now.

    Reply
  18. I’ve loved every line of your books and The Cad is one of my all time favorites, not to mention ‘To Wed A Stranger’ and ‘The Duke’s Wager’. I’m sure you get the picture by now.

    Reply
  19. I’ve loved every line of your books and The Cad is one of my all time favorites, not to mention ‘To Wed A Stranger’ and ‘The Duke’s Wager’. I’m sure you get the picture by now.

    Reply
  20. I’ve loved every line of your books and The Cad is one of my all time favorites, not to mention ‘To Wed A Stranger’ and ‘The Duke’s Wager’. I’m sure you get the picture by now.

    Reply
  21. Well, I haven’t read it and would never have guessed, but now I want to read it. That fabulous title alone is enough to suck me in.

    Reply
  22. Well, I haven’t read it and would never have guessed, but now I want to read it. That fabulous title alone is enough to suck me in.

    Reply
  23. Well, I haven’t read it and would never have guessed, but now I want to read it. That fabulous title alone is enough to suck me in.

    Reply
  24. Well, I haven’t read it and would never have guessed, but now I want to read it. That fabulous title alone is enough to suck me in.

    Reply
  25. Well, I haven’t read it and would never have guessed, but now I want to read it. That fabulous title alone is enough to suck me in.

    Reply
  26. I love books that start with atmosphere! Jane Eyre is my favorite, I think: little Jane huddled by the window, with the gray, spitting rain tapping on the glass. Go ahead and start with rain – I’ll read! 🙂

    Reply
  27. I love books that start with atmosphere! Jane Eyre is my favorite, I think: little Jane huddled by the window, with the gray, spitting rain tapping on the glass. Go ahead and start with rain – I’ll read! 🙂

    Reply
  28. I love books that start with atmosphere! Jane Eyre is my favorite, I think: little Jane huddled by the window, with the gray, spitting rain tapping on the glass. Go ahead and start with rain – I’ll read! 🙂

    Reply
  29. I love books that start with atmosphere! Jane Eyre is my favorite, I think: little Jane huddled by the window, with the gray, spitting rain tapping on the glass. Go ahead and start with rain – I’ll read! 🙂

    Reply
  30. I love books that start with atmosphere! Jane Eyre is my favorite, I think: little Jane huddled by the window, with the gray, spitting rain tapping on the glass. Go ahead and start with rain – I’ll read! 🙂

    Reply
  31. +JMJ+
    *** It was a dark and stormy night.
    That one worked well enough for Madeleine L’Engle in A Wrinkle in Time, one of the best-beloved children’s books of all time. Yet the line has haunting power all its own. I once included it in a classroom game, the object of which was to identify famous novels, given only their first lines. Nearly half of my students were adamant that they had read that line before and didn’t want me to give them the answer before they guessed it. When I finally did, however, it turned out that only several of them had read A Wrinkle in Time!
    When I thought about it afterwards, I realised that many great children’s novels have that wonderful “dark and stormy night” air–the tingling sense that something exciting is going to happen. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe begins just that way! =P
    *** Only one wedding guest was frowning.
    Edith, this is my favourite from among those you’ve shared with us. =) Who is the guest? Why isn’t he (or she???) smiling? Does this mean trouble for the bride and groom? Such a tantalising mystery! =)

    Reply
  32. +JMJ+
    *** It was a dark and stormy night.
    That one worked well enough for Madeleine L’Engle in A Wrinkle in Time, one of the best-beloved children’s books of all time. Yet the line has haunting power all its own. I once included it in a classroom game, the object of which was to identify famous novels, given only their first lines. Nearly half of my students were adamant that they had read that line before and didn’t want me to give them the answer before they guessed it. When I finally did, however, it turned out that only several of them had read A Wrinkle in Time!
    When I thought about it afterwards, I realised that many great children’s novels have that wonderful “dark and stormy night” air–the tingling sense that something exciting is going to happen. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe begins just that way! =P
    *** Only one wedding guest was frowning.
    Edith, this is my favourite from among those you’ve shared with us. =) Who is the guest? Why isn’t he (or she???) smiling? Does this mean trouble for the bride and groom? Such a tantalising mystery! =)

    Reply
  33. +JMJ+
    *** It was a dark and stormy night.
    That one worked well enough for Madeleine L’Engle in A Wrinkle in Time, one of the best-beloved children’s books of all time. Yet the line has haunting power all its own. I once included it in a classroom game, the object of which was to identify famous novels, given only their first lines. Nearly half of my students were adamant that they had read that line before and didn’t want me to give them the answer before they guessed it. When I finally did, however, it turned out that only several of them had read A Wrinkle in Time!
    When I thought about it afterwards, I realised that many great children’s novels have that wonderful “dark and stormy night” air–the tingling sense that something exciting is going to happen. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe begins just that way! =P
    *** Only one wedding guest was frowning.
    Edith, this is my favourite from among those you’ve shared with us. =) Who is the guest? Why isn’t he (or she???) smiling? Does this mean trouble for the bride and groom? Such a tantalising mystery! =)

    Reply
  34. +JMJ+
    *** It was a dark and stormy night.
    That one worked well enough for Madeleine L’Engle in A Wrinkle in Time, one of the best-beloved children’s books of all time. Yet the line has haunting power all its own. I once included it in a classroom game, the object of which was to identify famous novels, given only their first lines. Nearly half of my students were adamant that they had read that line before and didn’t want me to give them the answer before they guessed it. When I finally did, however, it turned out that only several of them had read A Wrinkle in Time!
    When I thought about it afterwards, I realised that many great children’s novels have that wonderful “dark and stormy night” air–the tingling sense that something exciting is going to happen. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe begins just that way! =P
    *** Only one wedding guest was frowning.
    Edith, this is my favourite from among those you’ve shared with us. =) Who is the guest? Why isn’t he (or she???) smiling? Does this mean trouble for the bride and groom? Such a tantalising mystery! =)

    Reply
  35. +JMJ+
    *** It was a dark and stormy night.
    That one worked well enough for Madeleine L’Engle in A Wrinkle in Time, one of the best-beloved children’s books of all time. Yet the line has haunting power all its own. I once included it in a classroom game, the object of which was to identify famous novels, given only their first lines. Nearly half of my students were adamant that they had read that line before and didn’t want me to give them the answer before they guessed it. When I finally did, however, it turned out that only several of them had read A Wrinkle in Time!
    When I thought about it afterwards, I realised that many great children’s novels have that wonderful “dark and stormy night” air–the tingling sense that something exciting is going to happen. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe begins just that way! =P
    *** Only one wedding guest was frowning.
    Edith, this is my favourite from among those you’ve shared with us. =) Who is the guest? Why isn’t he (or she???) smiling? Does this mean trouble for the bride and groom? Such a tantalising mystery! =)

    Reply
  36. I have The Cad so I don’t need a copy. But I didn’t realize there were related books! I’ll have to track them down.
    I particularly like the first lines from The Cad and Bride Enchanted.

    Reply
  37. I have The Cad so I don’t need a copy. But I didn’t realize there were related books! I’ll have to track them down.
    I particularly like the first lines from The Cad and Bride Enchanted.

    Reply
  38. I have The Cad so I don’t need a copy. But I didn’t realize there were related books! I’ll have to track them down.
    I particularly like the first lines from The Cad and Bride Enchanted.

    Reply
  39. I have The Cad so I don’t need a copy. But I didn’t realize there were related books! I’ll have to track them down.
    I particularly like the first lines from The Cad and Bride Enchanted.

    Reply
  40. I have The Cad so I don’t need a copy. But I didn’t realize there were related books! I’ll have to track them down.
    I particularly like the first lines from The Cad and Bride Enchanted.

    Reply
  41. Hm. I haven’t read this book yet and so I don’t know what the title is unless I parrot the other commenters and say “The Cad”!

    Reply
  42. Hm. I haven’t read this book yet and so I don’t know what the title is unless I parrot the other commenters and say “The Cad”!

    Reply
  43. Hm. I haven’t read this book yet and so I don’t know what the title is unless I parrot the other commenters and say “The Cad”!

    Reply
  44. Hm. I haven’t read this book yet and so I don’t know what the title is unless I parrot the other commenters and say “The Cad”!

    Reply
  45. Hm. I haven’t read this book yet and so I don’t know what the title is unless I parrot the other commenters and say “The Cad”!

    Reply

Leave a Comment