In writing a Picture Book, the first line may be the first and only chance to HOOK the reader into wanting to turn the page. The facilitators gave some guidelines to what a first line should do.
1. Introduce the main character and establish the VOICE.
2. Suggest the THEME of the story.
3. Establish the TONE of the book.
4. Reveal the CONFLICT.
5. Set up the STRUCTURE of the book.
Some famous first lines of books that they shared were:
1. "I'm a bad seed." from The Bad Seed by Jory John
2. "I just ate my friend." from I Just Ate My Friend by Heidi McKinnon
3. "On Monday I asked my mother if I could have a dog." from
The Best Pet of All by David LaRochelle
They shared a few others, too, and discussed why these were brilliant first lines. Sometimes the art does a whole lot more to entice the reader to turn the page than just the first line. But you get the idea of how important the job of these first few words is to introduce the main character, the conflict, the tone of the story and so on.
Now that I have written four Picture Books, I wondered how the first lines of my stories held up under the 5 criteria mentioned above.
1. "It all started with the boots." from Is This Cowboy Food?
2. "When Katelyn was a baby, she only wanted Mom." from Who Will Be My
3. "Michael was a boy who knew just what he liked." from Too Many Sisters
4. "Some kids have wooden forts high in the trees.
Some kids have swings that they sway in the breeze." from The Wonderful,
Marvelous, Magic Bunk Bed
Not too bad. What do you think? I have appreciated comments from friends such as "Your stories are such page turners." I hope that's true!