Monday, July 27, 2009


Awriter friend sent me a link to my short story that was posted on Electric Spec's blog today. They are accepting submissions for the first two hundred words of short stories and critiquing them. Mine is today's victim. lol.

My first line didn't tell enough. It's an enigmatic beginning. Probably because I like the mysterious, magical and unknown, but I do agree that the reader should be clued in right from the get go. So I'm grateful for the critique. The reader would probably enjoy my story much more if they knew the MC had just made it to Heaven.

This is why we put ourselves out there, so we can learn and become better writers.

However, now I have to rethink the first line of The Kindrily. Because guess what? Yup, it has an enigmatic beginning. First lines are so important. I thought mine was great but now it may be back to the drawing board.

How much thought have you put into your first line? Does it hook, does it reveal, does it define the problem?


  1. My first line has changed about 3 or 6 different times :) I think everything happens in that first line.

  2. My first line stinks! I'm working on it, though. Every time I rewrite it, it gets a little better, but I'm still not happy with it. I'll have to go check out your story!

  3. That was brave of you to submit it, and it looked like you got some good feedback. My first lines are usually boring, so I always have to redo them. Sigh.

  4. Loved the descriptions in your submission--you really have a fresh eye for detail and scene-setting.
    I was just rewriting my first line again the other day. It never seems quite right. But I think I learned something from the comments you got. (If I could just remember all the tips I pick up, enough to fill a barge, I think)

  5. You are the queen of beautiful, dreamy description. Even the person who gave this critique saw that!

  6. I love first lines! I'll start writing, but when I finish a chapter or a scene I'll go back and look at my first line, try to tweak it or tie it in so it captures attention right off the bat.

    Kudos for sticking your stuff out there! That takes guts. :-)

  7. Yes, it's important. But, a great second or third line can also be just as important. My first line is not a huge hook, but I think the first paragraph is. It's tough to know when it's just right.

  8. Hey! I remember that story from Quick Quill! I totally didn't make the connection there! Silly me!

    I have no problem with enigmatic first lines. I understand the value of grounding your story in the first line, as they said, but I don't necessarily want to be told in the first sentence that Protagonist A is up against Problem B because of Antagonist C. I don't mind doing a little work to unravel the story. I don't need to be spoon fed my fiction all the time, if you know what I mean. It's like one of the books that Oprah made a huge fuss over in her book club years ago (can't remember the title). The first line was something like "They killed the white girl first." with no explanation of who the white girl is, who's doing the killing, or why. If enigmatic is good enough for Oprah, by golly it's good enough for me! :D

  9. I love this story, the imagery is amazing. As far as enigmatic first lines, I think that just comes from the way this society has evolved into an instant gratification, I need it now sort of world. of course being too vague is not a good thing, but whats wrong with a bit of intrigue? Arent most stories or short stories supposed to leave you with a sense of wanting to interperet? I think if i read a book and everything is spoon fed to me, I might as well sit and read an encyclopedia. An example of what I mean, look at the Chronicles of Narnia, how long did it take anyone that read those books to really figure what exactly is happening? Definitley wasnt in the first book nor was it 100% apparent the first time I read the whole series.

    I end with this..
    "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."

    Brilliantly beautiful, I just wonder how this genius would stand up against todays agents/critics/publishers. Oh, and this is the 150th anniversary of one the GREATEST novels ever written.

    Keep on pushing forward Karen, you have an amazing gift, dont EVER forget that!

  10. I'm in the middle of reading a book called "Hooked" and it's very helpful! It is all about writing the first line, first paragraph, first page, and first chapter. I recommend it!


Popular Posts


Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Blog Archive

Write. Read. Imagine. Create. Learn. Love. Live. Repeat.