50 First Lines
“I always write a good first line, but I have trouble in writing the others. ”
I come up with a lot of first lines. Usually they’re for stories, but occasionally a line of poetry or a thesis for an essay will squirrel its way into my brain, too. I really can’t say where most of these come from (or maybe I just don’t want to look quite that deep into my psyche), but they’re usually pretty interesting, at least to me.
I have two problems with these first lines, though:
- I put off writing them down and end up forgetting them, and/or
- I don’t spend the time developing them into the full works they deserve.
Fortunately, though, I think I’ve come up with a solution to both problems, and I’m calling it “50 First Lines.”
A while back, Mur Lafferty started a series of posts on her blog called “The News from Poughkeepsie,” a series giving away free ideas to writers. The idea was (among other things) to inspire people with a seed that they could nurture to fruition. It was a damn cool thing to do, and it inspired me to try something like it.
On this very blog, I’m going to be posting (I think you can guess where this is going) a series of first lines. Take them. Use them. Make something great out of them.
I’m sharing these with you under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. Essentially, that means that you can take them, share them, change them, or write a work based on them (and even sell that work) without having to pay me a single cent. All you have to do is give me credit for the line (or the inspiration for the line, if you change it). That’s it. Whatever else you make of it is your own.
I may use some of these lines myself. Other people may use them (in fact, I hope they do!). Someone else may even—*gasp!*—use the same line as you. But you know what? That’s really okay. So what if someone else starts from the same place you do; the work you make will be uniquely yours, because you are a unique creative force with your own experiences, views, and voice.
— Jason Ramboz
August 14, 2009
Notes on Posting
I can’t promise that I’ll be posting every day. Oh, sure, I could say I’m going to, but it’s pretty unlikely that it’ll happen. I know that. You know that.
Instead, let me say that I’ll try to update this series regularly. Now, “regularly” can be a pretty slippery word, so let me say what I mean by that. I’m going to try to post at least three lines a week, hopefully every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. There may be more than that, but that’s my minimum goal.
As you may have guessed from the title, I’m shooting for 50 posts in all. Again, though, that’s a minimum goal, and I may continue beyond 50. Heck, I can only hope that it goes on to become as increasingly misnamed as the Hitchhiker’s Trilogy. Then again, I might just replace lines I don’t like with better ones, keeping the number sealed at 50, as it was in anciente tymes.
I could use your help, though. Not with coming up with lines; that’s all on me. But if you’re reading these lines, and like them (or don’t), leave me a comment. It’s nice to know that people are reading, and looking at a number in a hit stats column just isnt’ the same.
As I said in the introduction, you don’t owe me a thing for using these lines. But I’d really like it if you leave me a comment saying that you’re planning on (or have!) used one of my lines. Even better if you can link me to the finished product! This isn’t a requirement per se, but I’d really appreciate it. And heck, it’s a way to share your work with others!
Alright, let’s see what we can make together, shall we?