Tuesday, November 28, 2006

First Lines part II

Freedom's Gate, Freedom's Apprentice and Freedom's Sisters were planned as a trilogy but written as separate books.

Freedom's Gate starts like this:

It was before sunrise when the shame-faced man-at-arms knocked on my door to tell me that there had been an escape -- Alibek, one of the boys from Kyros's harem.

I like this opening a lot. You realize very quickly that the viewpoint character's role here is to pursue and bring back the escaping slave. This is a deeply unsympathetic act, because Lauria is supposed to start out as one of the bad guys. You also get a sense that while she's not in charge (it's Kyros's harem, not hers) she's someone to whom other people defer (the guard is ashamed as he tells her about the escape).

Freedom's Apprentice starts out:

There was a crumbled spot in the wall around Elpisia. Kyros sent slaves to fix it every year or two, but for some reason -- unstable ground, a vulnerability to wind -- it was always crumbling there again within a few months. When I was a child, and wanted to get in or out of town without being hassled by the guards at the gate, I scrambled over at that spot. Half a year earlier, I had examined that point in the wall while tracking an escaped slave.

This book definitely suffers from Middle Book Syndrome. If you haven't read the first book, it doesn't make a lot of sense. But you don't get the payoff of the big ending, either. I can see that in the opening lines. I'm giving the reader the setting before I tell them what's going on, and that's dragging it down. *sigh*.

Freedom's Sisters:

When I rode into the camp of the Alashi spring gathering, I tried to sit tall and hide my fear.

The viewpoint character at the beginning of this book is a different character -- Lauria's friend and companion from the first two books. I worked really hard to give her a distinct voice that would sound different from Lauria, and I felt pretty confident when I was done that I'd pulled it off. Again, she gives you little bit of an overview of what happened in the first two books, but with a better sense of forward momentum than I think I managed in book II.

Sheesh. Looking back at these is enough to make me screamingly neurotic. I am not as good at snappy first lines as Lyda, that's for damn sure.

Here's the first line of my current project:

On the last day of February, a postcard from Germany arrived in Heike's mail.

There's plenty of hinting and world-building on the first page of this story, but not much in that first line.

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