Friday, May 15, 2015

Fun First Lines by Alison Henderson

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?



Margo Hoornstra said...

Great job, Alison. ALL the intros will have me coming back for more. I especially liked "How much wine is too much?" AND the one with the Chihuahua pee reference. (Who among us can't relate to Chihuahua pee?) Especially with the added "Again." As far as covers, the one on the left gets my vote!

Liz Flaherty said...

Yup. I agree with Margo on all counts. And I love "If Wishes Were Fishes"!

Jannine Gallant said...

I'm with Margo. The wine and pee lines are epic! The left cover is also my fave.

Alison Henderson said...

Margo, Liz, and Jannine - thanks for the input. You know how much fun I've had coming up with first lines for our ROP stories. This project has given me an opportunity to let my imagination run wild. You can't even begin to imagine where the "wine" and "Chihuahua pee" stories go!

Sandra Dailey said...

Both covers are great, but I also prefer the brighter one. I love your first lines. My favorite was from Mistletoe and Misdemeanors. Have fun and good luck!

Alison Henderson said...

Thanks, Sandy! That cover is my favorite, too.

Mary F. Schoenecker Writes said...

What a lovely site this is. My vote for the left cover made me think of old fashioned Christmases.

Mary F. Schoenecker Writes said...

What a lovely site this is. My vote for the left cover made me think of old fashioned Christmases.

Ally Hayes said...

Great strong first lines. The wine one hooked me right away.

Susan Coryell said...

Every opening is a winner! I'd go for either cover but I think the one on the left is more eye-catching. Nice post.

Alison Henderson said...

Mary, Ally, and Susan, thanks so much for the encouragement! I've had a lot of fun with this project.

Hebby Roman said...

I liked the one about the Santa suit the best. And for the cover, I liked the one on the left. Was wondering about the whirly emblem for the cover on the right?

joy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Leah St. James said...

The Chihuahua pee did it for me, Alison. :-) They're all great, though! I'm also adding my vote for the cover on the left. It's fantastic! Thanks for sharing your fun first lines!

Unknown said...

These are wonderful! Those opening lines are such a struggle for me! I can only hope to do so well with mine.