Opening Lines

Blogging is new to me.  Although I’ve been writing all my life and have been reading other people’s blogs for years, I’ve never known where to start and my biggest deterrents have always been the same two questions:

  1. What can I write about on a weekly or daily basis?
  2. How would I ever keep it engaging?

For my purposes here, I think I’m going to overcome these questions by using diversified material.  The main reason that I formed this site was to promote my new book, Cheers, Beers, and Eastern Promise.  Previously, this book had been The Krasian Khronicles© and Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of the Best Time Ever©.  Over the years, my story underwent three title changes, three very different drafts, countless revisions, and tons and tons of cuts.  Rather than leave all of that work in the past, I’m going to utilize some of it here to highlight the life of my story and to give an example of how literature can change as it’s developed.

For starters, I’ll show the changes of my first paragraphs, but I need to give some background first.  I’ve always understood that the first paragraphs of a novel are the most important, especially to the potential buyers.  If the opening of a story is not engaging, why would anything that follows be worthwhile to read?  And beyond this thought, the first line of a book can many times – particularly for a first time author – be the most important line of the entire work.  As a first time author, this is how I viewed my first line, first paragraphs, and first chapter.  Because of this, they faced intense scrutiny and underwent massive changes over the years.  I’ve pasted them below so that you can see some of these changes.

In all of these versions, there were story-building ideas that I needed to express.  I wanted to capture setting, character, and tone without overstating it so that the reader was curious to learn more and would continue reading.  Number one was written in 2005.  Number two was written in 2009.  And number three was written in 2010.  The 2010 version is very close to what ended up as my final draft, which I’ll leave in the book for now.  Pick up a copy if you’re interested in seeing the final draft.  I promise that if you like what you see here and throughout the rest of my website, you’ll be glad that you did.

 

1.  It was 2005, two weeks into June, and I was on a solid stag of a motorcycle, both aged and proven.  I rode down the windiest coast of stone and sand I could find.  I looked out over the rising sun and endless ocean.  I scaled mountains with howling winds in my ears and caught the sweet sea salt on my lips.  And I crossed lush valleys, rose to barren peaks, and passed clouds of pillowy mist all to enter clear blue skies again.  It was then that I began to think about how…

 

 

2.  I-Lan County, Taiwan – It was 2005, two weeks into June, and I was on my solid stag of a motorcycle, both aged and proven.  Six-thirty in the morning and I was driving the east coast highway from Luo Dong to Nanao, traversing this winding coast of stone and sand as I had so many times before over the previous eleven months.  I looked out to the rising sun and saw an endless ocean.  I scaled mountains against deafening winds – howling in my ears.  I felt my thirst grow as my lips caught the sweet sea salt permeating the air.

Ahead, lush valleys rose to barren peaks, misty clouds rested upon naked roads, and blue skies patiently waited beyond it all.  Cresting my highest pinnacle of the trip, I began to think about how…

 

 

3.  Nanao, Taiwan[1] – The clouds, once again, were below me.  Riding my motorcycle, I looked down along sheer cliffs, through thin clouds, and into deep blue waves.  The Pacific was churning.  A thin, white froth highlighted the movements of the crashing waves.  Even from so distant a perch, I could see them.

It was 2005, two weeks into June, and I was on my motorcycle, an eleven-year-old silver Honda – she was beautiful.  We knew each other well.  And, once again, she was leading me home.

Six-thirty in the morning and I was driving the east coast highway from Luo Dong to Nanao, traversing this winding coast of stone and sand as I had so many times before.

Looking out again, I saw the rising sun over this endless ocean and continued climbing higher up the mountains.  The deafening winds began howling even louder, seeping through my helmet, beneath my hair, and into my ears.  My thirst began to grow as my lips caught the sweet sea salt that permeated the air.

Ahead, lush valleys rose to barren peaks, misty clouds rested upon naked roads, and blue skies patiently waited beyond it all.  Crossing over the last crest, I could see my path.  I was going home.

 

©Gerald John Abbey



[1] I still think the opening line needs to be stronger (06/10/10)

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