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The Cold Open: Guest blog by Thomas Randall

October 5th, 2009 (06:25 pm)
thirsty

Current Mood: thirsty
Current Song: Phineas & Ferb theme song

Today, Thomas Randall discussed memorable opening lines of mystery novels at Books by Their Cover. Here's a sneak peek:

THE COLD OPEN

It was a dark and stormy night. The ultimate cliche but I must confess, I'm fond of it. Who doesn't love a story that begins on a dark and stormy night? Both as a reader and as a writer, I have a great deal of respect for an opening sentence or paragraph that can really grab hold and pull the reader in. So many things can be accomplished in just a few words, including the creation of mystery and suspense. The tone of an entire novel or story can be effectively communicated in a single sentence. Sometimes a writer can win me over for life with just that one sentence. Two-fisted thriller writer Greg Rucka began his first novel, KEEPER, with this little gem: "Much as I wanted to, I didn't break the guy's nose." There's a certain tired whimsy in there to go along with the toughness. Hard-boiled fiction writers can almost always be relied on for such openings, and I love them for it. Dennis Lehane, whose Kenzie & Gennaro novels are my favorite modern hard-boiled detective novels, began his first, A DRINK BEFORE THE WAR, with this: "My earliest memories involve fire." Simple, yes, but the lines that follow weave together various images of riot and war as a the narrator--a firefighter's son--leads up to an ugly revelation. There's elegance there, and enough mystery to be intriguing.

In A TALE OF TWO CITIES, Charles Dickens begins with the famous "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," but many forget that this is not the entirety of the first sentence. There's much more to the opening and while most of it is equally intriguing, it finishes rather flatly, with this: "the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only." Yeah. Snooze, right? But Dickens has already caught the reader with the opening and that is more than enough to propel us forward with interest and curiosity. We're off and running. Or reading. You know what I mean.

Keep reading! Click here to read the entire post.



Follow The Waking blog tour to learn more about Dreams of the Dead, the first book in this thrilling YA series, and its author, Thomas Randall.

Monday, September 28th: An interview with Little Willow at Bildungsroman
Tuesday, September 29th: Author Q&A with Courtney Summers
Wednesday, September 30th: The Mind of a Girl, a guest blog about writing from the female POV, at readergirlz
Thursday, October 1st: Strange Girl in a Strange Land, a guest blog about researching Japanese culture, at lectitans
Friday, October 2nd: An interview at Sarah's Random Musings
Friday, October 2nd: An interview at Steph Su Reads
Monday, October 5th: The Cold Open, a guest blog about writing mysteries, at Books By Their Cover
Tuesday, October 6th: Q&A with Kim Baccellia
Tuesday, October 6th: An interview with BookChic
Wednesday, October 7th: An interview at Presenting Lenore
Thursday, October 8th: Special post for Michelle at GalleySmith
Friday, October 9th: Last stop with Kelsey at Just Blinded Book Reviews

Comments

Posted by: daisywhitney (daisywhitney)
Posted at: October 6th, 2009 04:51 am (UTC)

Raymond Chandler/The Big Sleep: I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn't care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: October 6th, 2009 02:49 pm (UTC)

:)

2 Read Comments