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Archive for March, 2010

These are some of my favorite first lines from novels. Some I’ve actually read, and some I just like the first lines. For another collection of first lines, Google “The American Book Review’s 100 Best First Lines” for their list.

(One notable “exclusion” from this list is the first line from Daniel Defoe’s, Robinson Crusoe which begins with an long and awful account of the origin of Crusoe and his name. As a child I liked the rest of the book, but I remember feeling a strong dislike for that first sentence and wondered if I should continue. I’m glad I did.)

  • “Death had no good reason being out on a night like this.” – Jack Cavanaugh, The Guardians
  • “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost
    deserved it.” – C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  • “Mother Died Today. or Maybe Yesterday. I Don’t Know.” – Albert Camus, The Stranger (translated by Stuart Gilbert)
  • “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.” – J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
  • “It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.” – Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford
  • “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” – George Orwell, 1984
  • “Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that.” – Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
  • “All children, except one, grow up.” – J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan
  • “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possesion of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
  • “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” – Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

And I saved the best for last…

  • “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” – J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Gotta love that mere hint of something unusual about to happen to stir up curiosity. And the subtext suggests that Mr. and Mrs. Dursley will not be happy about it! This suggests conflict, but in a comical way because of the wording of the final four words. Pure reading pleasure!

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Source: Points of View – Despair.com.

It’s probably not what you think. 😉

Points of View

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Source: What the Color of the Vehicle You Drive Says About You – Sensational Color.

An interesting application of Color Psychology and Symbolism. Could be quite useful to show a character’s personality in a subtle way.

Remember the Silver Volvo that Edward drives in Twilight or the Yellow Porsche in New Moon? Now lookup those colors in the list below.

There is no question that the vehicle you drive is an extension of your personality — an unspoken but clear message to the rest of the world.

Red

Vibrant Red: Sexy, speedy, high-energy, dynamic.

Burgundy or Blue-red: you give a similar message, but it’s far less obvious.

Orange
Fun-loving, talkative, fickle, trendy.

Yellow
Sunshine Yellow: Sunny disposition, joyful, young-at-heart.

Yellow -Gold: Intelligent, warm, loves comfort and will pay for it.

Green
Dark Green: Traditional, trustworthy, well balance.

Bright Yellow-Green: Trendy, whimsical, lively.

Blue
Dark Blue: Credible, confident, dependable.

Light or Mid-Blue: Cool, calm, faithful, quiet.

Purple
Creative, individualistic, original.

Gray / Silver
Elegant, loves futuristic looks, cool.

White
Fastidious.

Black

Empowered, not easily manipulated, loves elegance, appreciates classics.

Brown
Down-to-earth, no nonsense.

Taupe or Tan
Timeless, basic, simple tastes.

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Source: Photos: Dr. Cal Lightman’s Seven Universal Micro-Expressions | Fancast News.

The following photos depict the seven research-based universal facial expressions of emotion. They come from Fox’s hit television series Lie to Me. The photos show Dr. Cal Lightman (played by british actor Tim Roth) modeling the various facial expressions. The show is about Dr. Lightman, a human lie detector, who leads a fictitious think-tank that seeks out the truth behind people’s lies.

Anger

Contempt

Disgust

Surprise

Fear

Happiness

Sadness

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Source: Spiritual Carrey still mighty funny – USA Today

  1. Thou shalt make people laugh
  2. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s career
  3. Count thy blessings
  4. Laugh loud and often with thy friends
  5. Eat thy veggies
  6. Pace thyself
  7. Create thine own heaven
  8. Improve thyself
  9. Trust thine instincts
  10. Honor thy child’s dreams

Read the full article for explanations of each item. It’s a good read.

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Source: How To Title Your Book – Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

I believe the best titles reflect the central conflict, as in “Kramer vs Kramer.” Since the central conflict also provides the theme of the work, the title will then fit the work perfectly. “The Great Escape” is another good title. But this isn’t necessarily true. I’ve always liked the title “I, Robot…” which reflects character. “Animal Dreams” is another one I like, and it doesn’t reflect conflict. Finding a good title is an art, just like writing the book. – David Sheppard

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Source: How To Title Your Book – Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

Rachelle’s Instructions as gleaned from her post.

  1. Identify the feeling or tone you want to convey based on the genre of your book. Write it down. Be clear on what your title needs to instantly communicate.
  2. Find twenty books on Amazon that are in the same genre as yours and whose titles you like. Write down their titles. Try to get a feel for what works with your genre. What do you like about the titles? What don’t you like? Then put the list away for awhile.
  3. Sit with a pencil and paper (and maybe your critique group and a white-board) and free-associate, making lists of words related to your book. Put them in columns: nouns, verbs, adjectives. Nothing is off limits. Brainstorm until you have at least 100 words.
  4. See if any of the words would work as a single-word title. Then start experimenting with different word combinations. Adjective-noun, verb-noun. Keep a thesaurus handy and look up other words. Write down as many word combinations as you can. Try not to self-censor at this stage.
  5. From these lists, come up with at least 20 possible titles. Then put them away for 24 hours.
  6. Go back to your title list. Add any new ideas you’ve had. Then narrow it down to three to five possibilities.
  7. Run them by a few people. (This may or may not help.)
  8. Take a little more time before narrowing it down to one. If you can, wait another day or two.
  9. Go back to your list of titles from Amazon. Ask yourself if the title you’ve chosen would fit the list—without being too similar or generic.
  10. Once you’ve made a decision — celebrate!

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