First Lines


They say a great work should start with a great opening line. I think for the most part that’s true. Depending on the genre, some works call for a softer opening as long as something ‘punchy’ soon follows. Here are a few of mine:

Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart broke into a run, making heads turn. — The Wishing Bazaar (Lethbridge-Stewart; Candy Jar Books)

It began with blood on his son’s face. — Community Standing (Shotgun Honey)

LIGHT AND SHADOW could easily trick the eye. Every painter understood that and while Henry Barnsdale-Stevens was not an artist, the manipulation of form by sketching on a flat surface to create a three-dimensional image had always intrigued him. Just as other worlds intrigued him. — A Fistful of Dust; Space 1889 (Originally published by Untreed Reads/currently out of print)

THE PECULIAR RUBBER linings of the pressured corridors absorbed sound so that Arnaud almost failed to notice the first cough. The sound only registered when the word “slacker” was whispered, rounded off by another cough. — Mundus Cerialis; Space, 1889 (Originally published by Untreed Reads/currently out of print)

Strange that winter should be feminine. — The Texture of Winter (Originally published by Untreed Reads/currently out of print)

Émile beheld the rough lines of age and labour in the hand before him. — Bitter and Intoxicating (Red Velvet and Absinthe – Cleis Press)

He broke the neck of the first swan the day after her funeral. — Swansong (I Do Anthology – MLR)

He tried not to show his anguish as the ball of paper — a precious thing — struck the chalkboard, but no doubt, they noticed the instant tightening between his shoulders. — The Teacher (currently unavailable)

I lay in bed trying to remember my name. — Degrees of Sickness short story published by Midnight Street now available upon joining The Alternative Read yahoo group.

He tasted like rubies. — Effigy in Garnet short story published by Aoife’s Kiss ‘Sam’s Dot Publishing’ and subsequently also published in Night To Dawn.

He ran, arms pumping, feet pounding, slapping against the pavement. — The Stalker short story published by Dark Moon Rising

Once a year I pick apples from my garden and bake pies with them, but I know people who leave fruit to rot on the tree. — A La Mode essay published by a west country newsletter I used to write for.

Potential talent has always had the problem of being recognised, tapped, and finding its place in the world. — Another One Bites the Dust article on the plight of small press has been published seven times.

Some people would say I live a small life. — My Wild City essay previously published.

On a world of the twenty-five hour day, of a thirty-three minute hour, it is approaching midnight.Silver Apples of the Moon published by Roadworks

In this room of ancient whispers — The Kiss of Ghosts poem published by Roadworks

Paper fluttering in a cold breeze — Scourge poem published by Whispers of Wickedness


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