Daily Post / On Writing / Uncategorized

DP: Call Me Ishmael. (Days Late But Fun Writing Nonetheless)


The Daily Prompt of 05 January suggests, Take the first sentence from your favorite book and make it the first sentence of your post. Is there anyone out there who only has ONE favorite book?  I think not. Furthermore, I don’t always love opening lines. (I suspect it’s because they’re a challenge to create.)  Frankly, all the really great opening lines have already been penned, the best stories already told. Consider:

“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.” Even though he seemed to suggest that “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”, I could only surmise that if, in fact, such a sentiment were true, then “This is the saddest story I have ever heard.”

But all writers lie a bit when they tell the truth, and so it goes with first lines. Things are never as clear as they seem. I recall that, actually, “I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story.” After all, “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” If I lament, ‘Now what I want is, Facts.’, I’m going to be disappointed, because Facts alone don’t make compelling reading or writing, as long as we’re being honest. They’re good. But they’re not the whole story. Instead, I want something memorable. Something that runs the gamut. Something that says, “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.” Big. Complicated. Memorable.

Except that I can’t seem to write ‘big, complicated, or memorable. So I scramble about, looking for advice.

Well, just start somewhere.  “The beginning is simple to mark.”  Sure it is. Only I just sit here, while the words refuse to shape themselves properly into a memorable first line. Forlorn and forgotten, I cry, I am an invisible man.” Writers suggest a short, snappy opening, like “They shoot the white girl first.” BAM. So I commence, only it all goes down in flames. I expect the professionals hide their smiles behind their volumes that include everyone’s favorite opening lines, thinking, “It was a pleasure to burn.” 

“My suffering left me sad and gloomy.” I expect you, fellow writer/blogger, have suffered similarly. Fear not! “You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings.” It’s only writing. After all, All this happened, more or less.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s