Wednesday, May 28, 2008

First Lines / matching game

I'm still in Colorado on a rainy day. I'll be going to the hospital, where my sister has been admitted once again, this time with pneumonia. Before I leave, I wanted to share a fun exercise we have been doing to pass the time. As most authors know, the first sentence of a book needs to grab the author's interest. For fun, my sister, who is also an author (Absaroka) and I decided to reread the first lines of some of our favorite books.

First lines should arouse curiosity. Here is how a few famous authors have done it. First I'll write the sentence and then the authors in random order to see if you can match the author to the line.

"I have been afraid of putting air in a tire ever since I saw a tractor tire blow up and throw Newt Hardbine's father over the Standard Oil sign."

"Novalee Nation, seventeen, seven months pregnant, thirty-seven pounds overweight--and superstitious about sevens--shifted uncomfortably in the seat of the old Plymouth..."

"Happy families are all alike. Every unhappy family is unhappy in his own way."

"Buck did not read the newspapers or he would have known trouble was brewing, not alone for himself, but for every tide-water dog, strong of muscle and with warm, long hair from Puget Sound to San Diego."

"The first time Jude Allman died, he was eight years old."

"It wasn't as if he hadn't been warned. He got it straight with no beating around the mesquite."

Answers in random order:

Jack London

Barbara Kingsolver

Billie Letts

Leo Tolstoy

Louis L'Amour

T. L. Hines

If you'd like to e-mail me the answers, send to


Mary Cunningham said...

Thinking about you! Sorry, I think I only got one first line right! But, great contest!

Janet Grace Riehl said...

What a fun game to play...especially in the hospital! Ingenious.

This is a good way to study writing.

Janet Riehl

Janet Muirhead Hill said...

Mary and Janet, I'm glad you enjoyed the game. Another we played in the hospital was a survey of Joan's caretakers to see what their favorite books are. Heartwarming to see what doctors, nurses, and other medical technicians enjoy reading for recreation.

I'll give some examples in my nest blog post.

Janet Muirhead Hill