Writer Wednesday | First Lines, Part II

Last week, I reflected on first lines for the flash fiction pieces I’ve posted online. If you haven’t read it, go ahead and check out Part I!



This week is all about first lines from unpublished works-in-progress. First up, two shorter pieces I’m tossing around:

A sea of maroon undulates. I enjoy this one, though I wonder if it could be simpler. “Undulates” is a strong verb, but I question if it might be too heavy for a first line.

Nell Riley Foster, 23, of Brooklyn… An unsolicited piece in progress for 1:1000, I adore this line in the context of the piece. On its own, I’m not sure how I feel about it.

To the manuscripts!

The truth is simple. My long-term manuscript has two opening lines. This one is from my prologue; I don’t love the first line, but I love my prologue. At the same time, prologues can be tricky and I have seriously considered cutting it for reasons to be (possibly) outlined in a separate post.

The letter came early, when there was just a hint of crispness in the air and the wind flirted with the cold. This is the second opening line, from the first chapter. It’s much stronger, in my opinion – vivid, with a subtle hook (what’s in the letter and why is it early?).

Nola sees the light in the distance and her breath catches in her throat. One of my favorite opening lines from my writing – it sets up the first scene and the character very well. Again, it’s contextual, but it works very well and I’m happy with it.

I also have a couple of other pieces I’ve tabled that are in such disarray; there are plot outlines and character sketches, but they’re not at an opening line stage yet.

Any feedback on these lines? What works and what doesn’t?

3 thoughts on “Writer Wednesday | First Lines, Part II

  1. Sharon Rawlette says:

    My favorite is the “letter” line, for exactly the reason you give. Plus I like wintry imagery, and the wind “flirting” with the cold is a great touch.

    My least favorite is the sea of maroon undulating. It’s so abstract and doesn’t evoke any emotion or curiosity in me. There’s no intimation that this sea of maroon is going to MEAN anything, and that’s what we need it to do in order to be interested, I think.


    • Justice says:

      Thank you for your feedback! I definitely like the letter line more and more, and I agree that the maroon one is abstract and awkward. I forgot how much fun micro edits are 🙂


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