Monday, 30 January 2012

First lines

Yesterday I was reading an article about the best opening lines of novels. All the usual suspects were there - "It is a truth universally acknowledged...", "Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again..." and that one from the Great Gatsby about not judging people who haven't had the same advantages as you.
It made me wonder what my favourite opening to a novel was...and I decided on one that wasn't there.

                                    How Nobody Came to the Graveyard

"There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife. The knife had a handle of polished black bone, and a blade finer and sharper than any razor. If it sliced you, you might not even know you had been cut, not immediately.
The knife had done almost everything it was brought to that house to do, and both the blade and the handle were wet."

It's The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman - and it's one of my favourite books. The entire first chapter always makes me shiver. I'm going to have to include the bit when the man Jack meets Silas in the graveyard...
"The man Jack was tall. This man was taller. The man Jack wore dark clothes. This man's clothes were darker. People who noticed the man Jack when he went about his business - and he did not like to be noticed - were troubled, or made uncomfortable, or found themselves unaccountably scared. The man Jack looked up at the stranger, and it was the man Jack who was troubled."

It's almost February now - only a single tiny month stands between me and my fortieth year. So I've been thinking hard about people who make the forties look less daunting. Neil Gaiman is one such person. He's in his forties. He's a brilliant writer, he looks pretty cool (scruffy - but cool) And - did I mention - he's in his forties!


Tania Kindersley is another one. She's written some of my favourite books ever - and a blog that often makes me cry. I'm afraid I'm going to have to include another opening here...
"I met Jack at the start of my first summer in London. It was May, it was hot, I remember it."
(Goodbye, Johnny Thunders)
I can't help feeling that I wouldn't mind being forty if I could also be Neil Gaiman or Tania Kindersley.
Whenever I write something that I'm particularly pleased with, I compare it to something of Neil Gaiman's or Tania Kindersley's to see how it measures up.
And that's when I realise how rubbish it is, obviously!


Why not try the Neil Gaiman/Tania Kindersley test at home?
I'm not prepared to mention my word count today - it's too shaming!

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