Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"That Must Be Jelly 'Cause Jam Don't Shake Like That"

The first chapter sells the book; the last chapter sells the next book.
- Mickey Spillane
A book walks into a bar and immediately spies an intelligent reader and says, "Do you believe in love at first sight or should I just walk by again?" This very intelligent reader, unimpressed with the books blurb, gorgeous cover, and the screaming words "Best Selling Author of....", does what the majority of the book buying world would do - picks up the cute little book and reads the first line. Unfortunately for the book of the cute cover and catchy blurb, the first line does not capture the readers attention, and it is put back down, to search for yet another reader, perhaps one not as intelligent as the last.

You see, to me, the first line of a book is essentially a pick-up line. In a bar, the man or woman, doles out the pick-up line in an attempt to score a date. In a bookstore, the first line of a book is usually considered when trying to decide whether or not a book should be bought.

And this is my problem.

I am, at this stage of edits, putting entirely too much thought into the first line of the book. Well, truth is, I have the first line of the book, but what I have written after it, would be or possibly should be considered a Prologue. Heaven help me, but yes, I think I've written a Prologue. It's short, I mean really short, just under 600 words, and all it really does is give some back-story, and I really don't want to use it - I *think*. And that's where the internal debate comes in.

I love my first line. I love it so much, I want to marry it. I also love that bit of Prologue, and think it flows nicely with the first line. The problem is, if I keep my first line and what follows it, and it is used as it should be, as a Prologue, then I actually need a better first line for the start of the actual book. Are ya following me?

So now, I have no clue as to how to word the next scene, what is actually the first scene. My brain is a tangled mess over this (as you can tell by my messy post). I don't really want a Prologue. I'm not a fan. I've raised many a stink about Prologues over on the book blog, and I hate to be a big fat hypocrite and have one in my own work. BUT, I freakin' love this scene! I know, I know, sounds like I need to re-read my own post from a few days ago. But dayum, killin' your darlings is tough!

And that is why I have this blog. Because I now think I have a solution. I think I can keep my wonderful first line, JUNK mark everything that would be the Prologue, and start the book following that first line. OOOOOOOH, I am liking this idea the more it forms in my head. I even know where I can squeeze in some of the information from the Prologue into other parts of the book!

First lines, they are essential, I have to want to read the next line in the book, and if that first one doesn't draw me in, then forget it - I aint gonna be finishing the book. I know I am not the only one who feels this way. Of course, I'm gonna have to make the book live up to that first line, but right now, that doesn't seem impossible. Tomorrow, yeah, it probably will and I'll be back here banging my head against the wall again.

But for now, I think I have my pick-up line, and hopefully it works far better than some of the really, really bad pick-up lines heard throughout every bar in America on a Friday night.

Take Care

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