Sunday, August 8, 2010

Literary Prowess

I’m the kind of girl who chooses to read a book, or not to read a book as the case may be, based on one thing. Not on the blurb or the jacket cover (and certainly not based on the reviews), but more often than not, I choose a novel based on the first line of the book. The very first sentence usually screams out the author’s skill, topic, and tone. Some great ones include the following:

"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth." J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye. Love it or hate it, you have to admit, great first line.

Or what about, “All children, except one, grow.” Peter Pan J.M. Barrie. You have to admit, that’s a pretty good one too. Intriguing.

"The man in black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed" - Dark Tower I - The Gunslinger (no one touches Stephen King.)

Personal favorite: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." Jane Austin, Pride and Prejudice. (How funny is that? Surprise, the rest of her novels are pretty funny too.)

So, today, when in our pew at church I happened to pick up a long-hand cursive story written by my son during worship before he left for children’s church, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the first line, because, as I said before, it sets the skill, topic, and tone and determines whether or not I’m going to continue reading. And I can assure you that I continued reading with a first line so provocative, so profound, so titillating that it was a natural born page turner.

Chapter One:

“Elise is a butt head.”


Ahem. You want to read it too, now don’t you? Because I am an editor, I’ve chosen to correct some misspellings and leave some for reasons that will become obvious.

So, here it is--The Number One Son’s Ode to His Sister, Elise

Chapter One: “Elise is a butt head. She’s mean to me and sometimes she threatens to beat me.”

Chapter Two: “I don’t believe what she does to me. She’s the worst sister you could have.”

Chapter Three: “Sometimes she yells at me when I ask her something. She’s just so mean. What did I do to deserve her for a sister?”

Chapter Four: “She even talks about me behind my back, but she always comes back to the good side.”

Chapter Five: “She always apologizes she can be really nice about some things. Three times are when she bought me candy and two tech decks and an ice cream. I guess those were her being nice.”

Chapter Six: “She can be the best sister you can have and even though she can be mean she can still be nice. And she could kill anyone who was mean to me that wasn’t her because she is my sister and can be mean to me but no one else.”

Chapter Seven: “Elise is very nice if you be nice to her and sometimes she yells at me when I ask her to play a game with me, but she’s still nice. Some times. Mostly.”

Chapter Eight: “Elise can be dum. Like one time she tried to through a cup at me but it hit her own head, so she’d dum too. I guess that is what having a sister is like.”

Done. (like the confidant, "Done" as opposed to the overused "The End".)

And I hope this is the photo he chooses for the back of the jacket:

1 comment:

Pam Harmon said...

Good Story!! Good job Carter. I hope he does not write a story about me I would be scared!!