Tuesday, October 6, 2009

It Was A Dark & Stormy Night...

The Law School at WVU is currently sponsoring a Writer's Week for their faculty, staff, and students. One of the many activities that they are asking the WVU Community to participate in is 'It Was A Dark And Stormy Night" Writing Contest. They are requesting the best, original first sentences to a novel. Unfortunately, it appears that the contest is only open to the faculty, staff, and students. Nonetheless, I think it is creative and interesting.

As of 2006 The American Book Review had compiled a list of already published best first lines. You will see many of your favorites on this list. However, I believe that creating original lines could be a bit more of a challenge and I think this sounds like more fun. In fact, I'm going to use it as an activity for my AP Literature students this week. With that said, I'm curious as to the level of creativity some of you all possess.

What is your best original first sentence to a novel?

Submit your best original first line to a novel in the comment section of the blog. Show off a little bit! Shows us all what you're made of.


I'm The Chez said...

I'll work on an original first line. However, one of the lines that is the most memorable for me is from Kaye Gibbon's "Ellen Foster."

"When I was little, I would think of ways to kill my daddy. I would figure out this or that way, and run it down through my head until it got easy."

Great book. Read it if you haven't yet.

HeatherOsborn said...

I don't have an original to post just yet...although I think the idea is cool, so I'm gonna give it a shot.

With that said, I would include on the list the following first lines:

1. I went back to the Devon School not long ago, and found it looking oddly newer than when I was a student there fifteen years before. -- "A Separate Peace"

2. On September 15, 1981, a boy named Jack Sawyer stood where the water and land come together, hands in the pockets of his jeans, looking out at the steady Atlantic. -- "The Talisman"

I'm The Chez said...

Those are good ones, Heather!

A few others I like:

"Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." -Zora Neale Hurston's "Their Eyes Were Watching God"

"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect." -Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis"

"As dead people went, Bess Leander smelled pretty good: lavender, sage, and a hint of clove." -Christopher Moore's "The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove"

Brad Mills said...

"The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."

- Stephen King, The Gunslinger: The Dark Tower Book 1

TucsonBob said...

I'll save an original opening line for the day I've actually written a book, but I can say that one of my favorite openers is from Kurt Vonnegut's "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater." --
"A sum of money is a leading character in this tale about people, just as a sum of honey might properly be a leading character in a tale about bees."

I'm The Chez said...

My AP Lit class discussed famous first lines in class. They even developed some of their own original lines. I'll fill you in more later.

However, with their help they decided that I would have a fake memoir entitled "I'm The Chez and You're The Macaroni." (Duh)

Opening line:
"I'm the Chez and apparently I have boiled a few of my macaronis a bit too long."

I'm The Chez said...

Some of my students' original first lines:

"I sat lost in the back of my mind, just wondering..."

"They pulled into the parking garage, not knowing that they would never see their family again."

"Every moment ticks by drawing with it the death of my own life."

"The School of Hard Knocks sounds like a saint compared to this place."

"Last summer was the first time I went through with the kidnapping."

"Kasey, don't do this! You will get hurt! Don't do this please. I'm begging you." The words came out of Heavenly's mouth as Kasey stormed away from her and drove away.

"As she lied there on her back approaching death, she stared into the eyes of her killer, and when he caught her tears streaming down her check, his heart fluttered leaving him no choice but to lower his arms as she took her last breath."

"I woke up with no knowledge of my surroundings; a man struck me with a steel bat."

"It was the best of times, but being a teenager, I didn't care because right then, standing by that blood stained table, the way her liver felt in my hand was way more important than politics."

Anonymous said...

He knew he needed to rise and greet the day, but that required opening his eyes. Those ones that the night before left burning, crusted, and glued shut against the invasion of sparrow people.

“Screw the day”, he thought, “I’ll rise and greet the afternoon”.

Don Howerton said...

Hey Chez, this comment is not related to this post but, I wanted to be sure that you saw it so I am putting it under this one. I need your help. I am trying to get in touch with my old friend, Dave Thomas, could you please have him contact me at dontunafan@peoplepc.com.

Thanks so much !

I'm The Chez said...


I emailed him your contact information. I called and told him it was in his inbox!