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Opening Lines: Off To Be The Wizard by Scott Meyer

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:

Terror.

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.

  • Terror.

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.

Opening Lines: Memory Man by David Baldacci

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 Line; 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 David Baldacci’s Memory Man.

Memory Man (Amos Decker Series #1)

First, let’s take a look at the blurb:

Amos Decker’s life changed forever–twice.

The first time was on the gridiron. A big, towering athlete, he was the only person from his hometown of Burlington ever to play in the NFL. But his career ended before it had a chance to begin. On his very first play, a violent helmet-to-helmet collision knocked him off the field forever, and left him with an improbable side effect–he can forget nothing.

The second time was at home nearly two decades later. Now a police detective, Decker returned from a stakeout one evening and entered a nightmare–his wife, young daughter, and brother-in-law had been murdered.

His family destroyed, their killer’s identity as mysterious as the motive behind the crime, and unable to forget a single detail from that horrible night, Decker finds his world collapsing around him. He leaves the police force, loses his home, and winds up on the street, taking piecemeal jobs as a private investigator when he can.

But over a year later, a man turns himself in to the police and confesses to the murders. At the same time a horrific event nearly brings Burlington to its knees, and Decker is called back in to help with this investigation. Decker also seizes his chance to learn what really happened to his family that night. To uncover the stunning truth, he must use his remarkable gifts and confront the burdens that go along with them. He must endure the memories he would much rather forget. And he may have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

On a personal note, David Baldacci is one of my favorites. He also has one of the best Masterclasses on writing if you’re looking to learn a bit from a professional. He’s definitely a master at his craft. A master of the modern thriller.

Now let’s examine the Opening Line:

“Amos Decker would forever remember all three of their violent deaths in the most paralyzing shade of blue.”

This is the part where I would normally dissect the sentence to take its individual properties under the microscope, but this isn’t really something I can cut up.

We have to take it in one quick gulp. But what are we drinking?

First, we’re meeting our protagonist, Amos Decker. What do we know about him thus far?

We know he’ll “forever” remember all three of “their” deaths.

This word, forever, will have a much more profound meaning once you learn that he has suffered from an accident giving him hyperthymesia, a medical condition where he remembers virtually everything that ever happens to him, but we don’t know this yet. Still, it’s a perfect set up for Baldacci’s story. (This isn’t a spoiler alert, it’s in the blurb. So are the three people, which we’ll talk about next.)

Who exactly died? Obviously, there were three people. How did they die? We know it involved violence. Who were they? And what is the significance of the phrase the most paralyzing shade of blue?

Again, based on the Opening Line alone, we don’t know the answers to any of these questions. But David has done his job because we want to find out.

If you want to learn more about Amos Decker, click the Barnes & Noble link.

Here’s what I’m pitching…

Twelve-year-old Abigail O’Keefe is AO’K. At least that’s what she tells herself when she realizes the lifeboat she was hiding in has somehow detached itself from the cruise ship, and she’s floating alone in the ocean. She wonders if this has anything to do with the ball of light she followed while playing hide-and-seek with her friends.
After running ashore on a strange land and meeting the Easter Bunny, she learns she’s on Holiday Isle. It’s a magical island ruled by four saints: Saint Nick in the North, Saint Valentine in the West, Saint David in the East, and Saint Patrick in the South. But St. David, the red dragon, is missing, and the island is in an uproar. As much as Easter would like to help Abigail get home, he’s found himself on the Naughty List. And take it from him, Abigail does not want to be on the Naughty List. Because if you get caught by the Toy Soldiers who manage the list, you’ll serve hard time in the North Coal, a hard labor coal mining camp enforced by Krampus, an imp who’s the polar opposite of Santa.
Easter advises Abigail to seek the help of St. Patrick but steer clear of the Pumpkin Patch, which is home to Hauntra–the Queen of Halloween. And whatever Abigail does, don’t let anyone know about the daffodil she’s wearing in her hair. During her quest to get home she meets many Holiday Mascots: April Fool, Mardi Gras, Cinco and his sister De Mayo, Bones, and many others, including Jack Frost! But who can she trust? Certainly not the scarecrow who’s already lied to her about the Tooth Fairy. Can she believe St. Patrick? Chuck the Groundhog doesn’t think so. He wouldn’t trust a leprechaun any farther than he can throw one. Not to mention, St. Patrick wants her to steal Dreidel’s Time Top–a magical item that can turn back time by eight minutes. A task so daunting, it’s sure to get her locked away forever in the North Coal.
Concept Image:
Abigail Cover PNG

Pitching again!

It’s that time again! I’ve officially finished writing, editing, and polishing my latest manuscript and have started querying.

Today is May 11th. I’ve researched a few particular people and feel we might be a good fit for each other. Each has different strengths. One, in particular, is a fairly new agent for a large literary agency. I believe Nicholas Sparks found success with a fairly new agent; he was pulled from a slush pile after the agent he actually queried…DIED!

I fully expect some Rejections; I’ve been through this before. But maybe, with luck, I’ll find the perfect person who loves my writing and loves my story.

I’ll keep you posted! Here’s to finding my forever agent!

 

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Opening Lines: The Bastard Boys of Montezuma by Jaromy Henry

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 Line; 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 my very own novel, The Bastard Boys of Montezuma.

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First let’s take a look at the blurb:

Cash Holliday and Marshall Earp are the illegitimate sons of the most notorious gunslingers in the West. Despite a lingering bad economy in 1896, the two operate a flourishing detective agency, largely thanks to selective partnerships.

When Sheriff Kristof Varga hands Marshall a bounty for the infamous Cactus Kid, they realize their business could change overnight. But Cash receives a letter stating some of his late father’s possessions are in Tombstone and he becomes interested in a different pursuit. Faced with lying to his best friend, crazy superstitions, a girl with a mysterious past, and a Pinkerton agent who is hot on their trail, Cash must decide if he’s willing to risk their lives for the secrets of a father he never knew.

This was such a fun book to write. Challenging, but fun. It took a lot of research to accurately write about the 1800s, but boy was it interesting.

Let’s examine my Opening Line:

“Across the street, I counted six crows perched on the rooftop of the funeral home, which was as ironic as it was prophetic.”

What do you think? Do you like it? Here’s what I hoped to accomplish with this line.

“Across the street, I counted six crows perched on the rooftop of the funeral home…”

I give an eerie location and an even eerier sight to catch the reader’s attention.

“which was as ironic as it was prophetic.”

Then I hit you with this statement, which I hope makes you ask the following questions:

Why is it ironic to see six crows sitting on the rooftop of a funeral home?

What is the significance of crows? Six in particular.

And finally, why is this sight prophetic? Does it have to do with the site, the funeral home, and alluding to death?

If you want to find out, click the Barnes & Noble link.