First sentences

I’ve seen this meme a bit recently on the many, many, many writing blogs I visit, but they always list first sentences of famous or otherwise important novels.

I don’t want to come across as vain, but I do wonder how the first sentences of my published works stand up, so I’ve provided them here. They’re a diverse bunch for such a small number. (With luck, maybe the list will be doubled by next year.)

*   *   *

The first story I had published appeared nineteen years ago, in the days before ezines. I met the editor of The Platte Valley Review at a conference, and he asked to see some of my work. I sent him my story “The Myth Maker” and he published it:

“Few here remember the name Rambouillet any longer.”

The last of a line, trying to get a few facts straight before his time is done.

*   *   *

After that, a long time passed before I tried submitting my stories again. When I did, my young adult fantasy story “Race to the Summit” found a home in the print edition of Beacons of Tomorrow: Second Edition:

“I’m as swift as a deer.”

The narrator/protagonist is a high school boy smitten with a girl in his class. He defines himself in terrestrial terms, thus the opening sentence and several that follow, but he learns something quite different about the girl.

*   *   *

Present Magazine is a local publication in my hometown that published my short story “The Lively Arts in Kansas City” two summers ago.

“Had anyone been paying attention, the first moments of the interesting events that summer might have been noticed.”

When art comes to life you would think people would notice, but this is not a town that pays much attention to its art or history.

*   *   *

My story “Night Train to Kisumu” appears in Wanderings Magazine:

“The windows of our train were filthy with decades of exhaust and grit.”

The inability to see things right before one’s eyes is important to this story, so I wanted to set the tone immediately.

*   *   *

In Mirror Dance, my most recent published short story, “The Manuscript,” starts out like this:

“Spivek pays me to paw through the books in the back of his store.”

That story has a framed narrative, so the speaker there is not actually the one who tells the story.

*   *   *

My story “Moron Saturday” will appear in the November issue of Danse Macabre. It begins thus:

“Professor Hunter rose to slake his thirst.”

Poor Professor Hunter has a terrible day.

*   *   *

Here is the first sentence of my novel-in-progress, The Sleep of Reason:

“I met Bower, the man who has made me a monster, when we shared a room as freshmen at Sperriton College, nearly two decades ago.”

The novel will be rewritten with a third person narrator, so the first sentence won’t remain like this. I tossed in the monster part as a way to introduce thematic suspense right away, but I don’t really like it. It seems forced.

*   *   *

Do all of these work successfully as initial sentences? I know it’s impossible to tell much without the rest of the story, but so much supposedly rides on a good opening sentence. You’ll have to let me know.

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