I was tagged by @salamanderinspace to post the first line of 10 of my fics!
Which pleases me, as I’m not the sort of person who ever gets tagged in anything.
Thing is, my writing style? I don’t do whammy first lines. I used to try, but they mostly didn’t work, and I outgrew the attempts. I try super hard to just drop you right into the scene; it’s almost always Protagonist, Action Verb, Setting, and then the next line is usually dialogue or a situation developing. I don’t want my first line memorable because I don’t want you to trip over it; I want you to walk right in to find out where the heck they’re headed.
I saw @galadhir, I think (or was it @heartofoshun?) do this meme as the first paragraph of five of your fics, and I liked that a great deal, because it gives you a lot more insight into the less-flashy writers. My first reaction on considering this meme was actually to feel really bad about my writing, but I just got a couple of comments on a recent thing from readers pointing out that my style tends to be both invisible and dense, and I was really pleased to hear that it comes across that way. Because that’s what I’m going for.
So– look at the first line, and then look at the paragraph, and you’ll see why I did it this way. My first paragraphs tend to be short too! I don’t want to drown anybody. My first lines are nothing, they really are. And I felt sort of bad about that, but there are as many ways to tell stories as there are storytellers, so this is for all the rest of you who felt your opening lines to be lackluster even though they were stories you’d always loved. And if this style works for you, then maybe you’ll like the rest of my stories. :)
* Meduseld’s roof gleamed in the early spring sunlight, but to Éomer it looked more forbidding than friendly. He regarded it with trepidation as Edoras came fully into view ahead, and Éothain noticed his expression.
The Clasp Undone, LOTR fandom, written in 2004 for HASA, now on AO3. An early example– setting, reaction, motivation and secondary characters in two sentences. I think I was trying for a whammy opener a little bit, or at least poetic imagery. I also had excerpted an obscure poem preface but I figure that doesn’t count for this meme. (For a while I thought the poetry was required before each chapter…)
* There was a caravan on the road, Khat deduced, from the actions of the pirates. He was not foolish enough to get anywhere near the action, knowing both sides would be perfectly eager to kill him, but he settled on a promontory and watched, waiting for the pirates to come back with prisoners to their camp.
The Kenniliar-Charisat Road, gapfiller for Martha Wells’ City of Bones, written in 2009ish but unpublished until 2013 on AO3. I think you can tell I wrote this entirely for myself, never really intending to publish it– there’s little concern for reeling the reader in. It’s more just my personal heartbreak that the author was not going to write a sequel, and I wanted to spend more time with the characters. So this one is probably most interesting as an example of how I’d write if nobody was reading. Because, well, nobody was, and nobody is; it’s not a popular fandom. It’s only as poetic as it needs to be for the setting to be established; it’s mostly pragmatic in choreography, and then I take my sweet time with dialogue because that’s what I like. A challenge, though: one of the characters refuses to admit that he can speak the other’s tongue for almost the entirety of the story. No worries; Sagai can make up the difference.
* “You’re fulla shit, McKay,” John said happily, taking a bite of the almost-apple in his hand and chewing noisily because he knew it was annoying. Rodney reacted predictably, setting off on a great, somewhat-shrill, rapid-fire rant about the merits of the continuously-variable transmission in an automobile over a standard transmission. John didn’t give a fuck, but he’d wound Rodney up enough that he could enjoy the show, so he waited a moment, said, “But the Batmobile’s totally a stick shift,” and watched Rodney spin off into near-incoherence.
Bones Reds, SGA (gen), 2013, on AO3. This one, you can tell I’d been reading a lot of other fic. The McShep fic community (especially @theletteraesc, my forever fave) tended to favor fast-paced rapid-fire stuff, and banter especially, and I totally got sucked in. This is the closest I come to a whammy. (Another of my early examples starts off with “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me”, straight from John’s mouth; same idea.)
The downside is that I think I kinda shot my wad in this paragraph and the rest of the fic is just okay. Eh! It was quite early in my AO3 days.
* There was the sharp crack of rifle fire from behind a tree, and Peggy nodded to herself in satisfaction; it had to be Barnes. Good, she wasn’t totally separated from the others. She waited until he fired again, and someone screamed distantly as the bullet found its mark; she used that hushed moment to fall back, darting from her flimsy cover behind a bush to a more solid cover behind a tree trunk.
Guts, a gen Peggy & Bucky MCU/Captain America fic, published in 2015 on AO3. Yo look at all those semicolons. I think I’m trying to channel 1930s English Schoolgirl here but it might just be that I used to be real into semicolons after a misspent Tolkien-obsessed youth and I’m bad at not using them for everything.
* Steve was on top of Natasha, missionary-style, fucking her hard and steady. Bucky wandered in just as she was coming, and stood in dumbfounded shock watching as she shuddered and gasped.
Put On Earth With That Sole Purpose, Steve/Natasha/Bucky, 2015 on AO3, a shining example of my favorite genre, which is a pure-smut character study. That is what I love. It’s not just PWP, it’s a character study. I can’t help doing this and I’m hopelessly addicted to it. But as you can see, there’s no gradual introduction to the action here; we start with, quite literally, a climax. When it comes to fucking around, I don’t fuck around.
I’m also going to cop-out, I think, and say I tag anyone who wants to do it, because the nature of Tumblr discourse is such that it’s super hard to figure out who of the writers I follow actually follow me back and would be interested. But if you, like me, are the sad sort who easily feels excluded, and nobody has tagged you, I am sorry to hear that and wish I were clever enough to have noticed to tag you. Consider yourself tagged. Maybe holler at me in the post and I will in future try to remember to tag you. If I ever get tagged in a thing again. Because I rarely do and often when I am don’t really know how to do it. Awkward peeps unite!! I’m here in this corner with you, and I have beer.