Tim Pratt's Journal

Get Email Updates
Email Me

Admin Password

Remember Me

2803377 Curiosities served
Share on Facebook

Novel Gazing
Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Read/Post Comments (4)

Sarah Prineas wrote today about beginning novels, and I, in my stream-of-consciousness way, started thinking about the literal beginnings of novels, as in, the first line. (Well, first paragraph, sometimes.) So here's a parade of my first (few) lines from all my finished novels, including old trunk novels that are better off buried and will never, ever have daylight shine upon their pages:

Shannon's God (Written in 1996. Contemporary fantasy; simplistic and badly written, but there's some stuff in it I still like):

Shannon saw a monster in the middle of the bright hallway, between her dorm room and the showers.

Raveling (Written in 1997. Contemporary fantasy, way too ambitious for my skills at the time. I still think occasionally about revising it):

Before black flies and white lizards, before the wrong stars and sleepless assassins, before the pockmarked moon and the singing dead, before the last autumn of the world she knew: Lucinda Brighton slept, and dreamed a pleasant dream.

Infants and Tyrants (Written in 1998. Superhero fantasy. My lousiest trunk novel, set in the world of my story "Captain Fantasy and the Secret Masters"; I eventually decided to think of it as 80,000 words of backstory for that piece, rather than as an actual book of its own):

Mary wasn’t paying attention to the television. She was ironing, her mind in the empty gray zone it occupied during most of her housework. It was laundry day, and she was working on a basket of Lyle’s shirts. It seemed like it was always laundry day.

The Genius of Deceit (Written in 1999. Contemporary fantasy with lots of Hindu mythology. Honestly, it's a couple of fairly heavy revisions away from being sellable, I suspect, and I may actually take the time to revise it sometime):

Sarah went to the dresser, where she kept her small shrine to Ganesha, the elephant-headed god of luck, overturner of obstacles.

The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl (Written in 2001/2002, my first published book. Contemporary fantasy with Western stuff in):

Marzi leaned on the counter and watched, with dread twisting in her belly like a knot of rattlesnakes, as Beej trudged up the stairs.

Blood Engines (Written in 2003/2004. Urban fantasy, first in the Marla Mason series):

Marla Mason crouched in the alley beside the City Lights bookstore and threw her runes.
The Light of a Better World (AKA the Bridge novel. Contemporary fantasy written in 2005/2006. Has the distinction of Longest First Line In My Oeuvre):
The night before Bridget walked out of Darrin's life, six months before he watched her climb over the railing of the Golden Gate Bridge and dive headfirst into the water 200 feet below, six months and four seconds before she struck the surface of San Francisco Bay with a force of 15,000 pounds per square inch, dying instantly from the resulting physical trauma, they had this conversation:

"Remember when you said you wanted to drink wine out of the small of my back?" Bridget asked.

Poison Sleep (the second Marla Mason book. Interestingly, I first tried to write this book in 2000, and it was going to be the first Marla Mason book. I got 50,000 words done and then gave up because it was hopelessly broken. I didn't return to it until 2006! I no longer have the original opening, alas):

The Bentley squealed to a halt at the top of the icy horseshoe driveway before the looming brick face of the Blackwing Institute. Marla leapt from the passenger side and rushed for the front doors, purple-and-white cloak billowing after her in the gusty winter wind. The blade of the slim dagger in her hand crackled with blue sparks of paralytic magic, and she held colored pebbles in her left fist, each capable of neutralizing one of the five senses. Even deaf, blind, paralyzed, and unable to smell, taste, or feel, Elsie Jarrow would be lethal, but Marla's charmed weapons would at least level the field.

Dead Reign (The third Marla Mason book. Written in 2007. Exists only in pure zero draft, so this beginning may change utterly):

"So we're in the business of hassling crazy people now?" Rondeau said, pretending to read the newspaper open on his lap. He talked from the side of his mouth, like a convict in an old movie.

What have I learned over the past, gods help me, eleven years? I think I tend to start with action these days, rather than hooptedoodle writing or, well, people doing laundry. Though the opening to The Light of a Better World is my favorite, I have to say.

Read/Post Comments (4)

Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Back to Top

Powered by JournalScape © 2001-2010 All rights reserved.
All content rights reserved by the author.