This is the blog where we dissect the opening sentences of popular works of fiction. Few people outside of the writing community know how much blood, sweat, and tears go into crafting the perfect Opening Lines; and for that reason, I want to bring attention to the incredible work that a writer puts into these first few words. Today we will examine Scott Meyer’s Off To Be The Wizard.
First, let’s take a look at the blurb:
Martin Banks is just a normal guy who has made an abnormal discovery: he can manipulate reality, thanks to reality being nothing more than a computer program. With every use of this ability, though, Martin finds his little “tweaks” have not escaped notice. Rather than face prosecution, he decides instead to travel back in time to the Middle Ages and pose as a wizard.
What could possibly go wrong?
An American hacker in King Arthur’s court, Martin must now train to become a full-fledged master of his powers, discover the truth behind the ancient wizard Merlin…and not, y’know, die or anything.
I happened upon this book while searching for something else, and I haven’t read it yet, but I have already purchased it. I wanted to use this particular book as an example of why my blog is called “Opening Line(s).” Most of the introductory lines I use in this blog are only the first sentence, but sometimes it takes more than a sentence to hook the reader, and if done correctly, it can be just as effective.
Now let’s examine the Opening Lines:
Martin Banks enjoyed science. As a child he read about people who made huge, world-changing discoveries, and he had wondered what emotions he would feel if he ever discovered something really earth-shattering. Now he had made such a discovery, and he was surprised to find that the answer was absolute bowel-loosening terror.
Let’s break this up into individual groups.
Here we have a single, powerful word. Terror. A noun, according to dictionary.com, that’s defined as intense, sharp, overmastering fear: to be frantic with terror.
Right off the bat, the author slaps us in the face with this initial hook. Which has us wondering, what terror? What’s coming?
Then, we have a little expository about the protagonist.
- Martin Banks enjoyed science.
Okay, nothing interesting here. We’ll have to read a bit more to figure out the reason for the terror.
- As a child he read about people who made huge, world-changing discoveries, and he had wondered what emotions he would feel if he ever discovered something really earth-shattering.
Again, nothing major, but this is part of the author’s crescendo. An elaborate musical interlude about to deafen us with its climactic point.
We can also kind of see where the author is going. Martin Banks liked science, and now he’s wondering how he would feel if he discovered something earth-shattering. He’s obviously about to discover something. WHAT’S HE ABOUT TO DISCOVER?
The next line sets the hook, allowing the author to reel us in.
- Now he had made such a discovery, and he was surprised to find that the answer was absolute bowel-loosening terror.
We still don’t know what he discovered, but it’s ABSOLUTE BOWEL-LOOSENING TERROR. There’s that word again. Terror. All I can say is, at this point, if you aren’t curious to know what he’s discovered, you should go back to watching TV, because reading isn’t your thing.
I, for one, can’t wait to find out.
If you want to learn what’s so terrifying, click the Barnes & Noble link.
Until next time, happy reading.