First lines are critical. They can draw readers into the story, leave them cold, or actually push them away. That's why authors put so much time, effort, and even agony into coming up with the perfect first lines for every new story.
My latest project, a short story collection entitled Small Town Christmas Tales, was inspired by the holiday stories written by The Roses of Prose every December. I had so much fun writing my contributions the past few years that I decided to produce my own collection for release next fall.
When I made that decision, I didn't consider the implications. I want to include ten stories in the collection. That means I have to come up with ten heroes and heroines, ten settings, ten plots, and ten sparkling first lines. So far, I've written the drafts for eight stories. Just for fun, I thought I'd share the first lines with you. Some might be a single sentence, but most are two or three--just enough to set the tone and hook the reader. These are unedited, so there may be changes before the final versions.
If Wishes Were Fishes
She had just one wish for the holidays. The same wish she'd wished every December for the past five years. Please bring Ben home for the holidays.
Mistletoe and Misdemeanors
This was the last place she expected to spend
Christmas. Callie Rayburn glanced around the puke-green, cinder block cell in
the basement of the Hawthorne Springs, Missouri police station.
Let It Snow
She'd never seen a Santa suit used in quite that
way. Jillian Mayberry leaned forward against the steering wheel of her Mini
Cooper and squinted through the swirling snow. Her eyes weren’t playing tricks
on her. That really was a bright red Santa suit flapping in the wind from the
flagpole in front of the old log cabin.
The Brightest Jewel
The ancient Greeks
believed amethyst protected against drunkenness. Brianna Cahill wondered if
Howard Littleman, Black Bear Creek’s perpetually put-upon mayor, knew that when
he chose the stone for his wife’s Christmas present.
Liza's Secret Santa
Liza Tolliver turned
the small package in her hands, examining it for clues. She’d found it tucked
in the doorway of her shop, Tolliver’s Tiny Treasures, when she’d opened the
door that morning. The box was about six inches square and wrapped in brown
paper. A sprig of holly brightened the simple twine bow. Next to the bow, To Liza was printed in pencil, followed
by From Santa.
No Room at the Inn
How much wine was too
much? Was such a thing even possible?
Second Hand Hearts
Rachel Corbin bit her
tongue as she slipped in a small puddle of Chihuahua pee. Again.
A Hard Luck Christmas
Olivia Castillo gripped the steering wheel, struggling to keep her
rusty, trusty old Honda Civic on the right side of the two-lane highway in the
gusty, gale force wind—not that there were any other cars to worry about. As
far as she could tell, she was the only living soul on this godforsaken road in
this godforsaken state.
So what do you think? Do these work for you, or not? Some of the stories are funny, some are heart-warming. Each is set in a fictional small town in a different state. I hope the first lines will intrigue readers rather than set them yawning.
Also, I'm considering these two possible covers. Which do you like better?