Starting with a Bang

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal

~~The electronic age has shortened our attention spans. That and the remote control. Remember when you had to get up out of the chair and go change the television station or adjust the volume. There weren’t but three or at most four stations to change to, so most of the time whatever came on was good enough if you were feeling lazy. And you put up with commercials. That’s why us older folk can sing along with so many of the old commercials or remember the punch lines. Please don’t squeeze the Charmin. Or Mother, I’d rather do it myself. Then there was Ring around the collar. That dirty ring. You try scrubbing it out… Guess you can tell who they were selling to back when. The person doing the housekeeping. How about this one? You’ll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent. I went back in time for those, didn’t I?

~~These days a lot of people like my husband refuse to watch commercials and switch stations at the first sign of an advertising jingle. All that switching channels drives me crazy, but I don’t watch much t.v. except for basketball games and my team got beat yesterday. I’d rather read than watch t.v. Another way people avoid commercials is by recording everything and watching the shows later so they can fast forward through the ads. Of course there are those Super Bowl ads where people go get their snacks while the game’s going so they won’t miss the commercials.

~~With everybody trying to grab our attention and with all sorts of electronic means to do so, our attention spans seem to have shortened. That desire for immediate entertainment carries over to our books. Back in the days before radio and television, readers were much more patient. And no, I’m not quite that old. But I’ve read a lot of classics. Those writers could count on a reader giving them a few pages or even chapters to get the story going and they weren’t usually spare writers. Some of them wrote with much flourish and scene setting. Not today. Today’s writer better get it going in that very first sentence if he or she wants to grab a reader.

~~I talked about that today on Facebook and some people commented about their favorite first lines. I may have done that on here already in the past. I’m hearing echoes in my head. (How about that for a first line?) But if so, it’s worth talking about again. A writer needs to grab today’s impatient reader. We need to throw the reader right into the action or make them curious about this or that character.

~~I tried to think up some interesting first lines out of the blue while I was walking today. These aren’t out of books just out of my head. “Her boyfriend’s body was heavier than she expected. Late boyfriend.” (Okay that’s two sentences. I’m better with two sentences. Guess I need to edit tighter, huh?) ” Saundra had never been kissed unless you wanted to count dog kisses.” “She added extra chocolate to mask the taste of the poison.”

~~What first line can you make up to start a story with a bang or what’s a great first line from a book you’ve read? I’m going to be paying more attention to first lines now. Mine and everybody else’s too. Maybe I’ll find some good ones before Wednesday and share them with you then. Hope you have a great week.