As I ponder revisions on my own YA, I’ve been thinking about first lines. What about all those rules we've been told about first lines. Is it true that you shouldn’t mention the weather? Do you have to mention the MC right out of the gate? Are you not supposed to start with dialogue?
So I decided to do a quick review. I pulled ten YA books off my shelf (variety of genres) and looked at their first sentences. In some cases, if they were short, I pulled the first two. What do you notice they have in common?
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins: I have three simple wishes. They’re not really too much to ask.
The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting: Violet Ambrose wandered away from the safety of her father as she listened to the harmony of sound weaving delicately around her.
The Summer I turned Pretty by Jenny Han: We’d been driving for seven thousand years. Or at least that’s how it felt.
Possession by Elana Johnson: Good girls don’t walk with boys. Even if they’re good boys—and Zenn is the best.
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson: If you live around New Orleans and they think a hurricane might be coming, all hell breaks loose.
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White: “Wait—did you—You just yawned!” The vampire’s arms, raised over his head in the classic Dracula pose, dropped to his sides.
Across the Universe by Beth Revis: Daddy said, “Let Mom go first.”Mom wanted me to go first.
Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally: I once read that football was invented so people wouldn’t notice summer ending.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.
What do you think? Seriously, if you noticed something they all have in common, you’re a better person than I am.
Some are short, some are almost poetic in their prose. Some start with dialogue. Some mention the character’s name.
The one common denominator is that ALL OF THEM MAKE YOU WANT TO READ MORE. And I guess that’s all you can ask from a first line. Go back and look at the first line of your book. Do you think it makes people want to read more?