Old and New Beginnings

Happy New Year to all of you. Thank you to everyone who has followed my blog since the beginning of December. I hope that 2015 is good year and brings you happiness, peace and fulfillment.

Today, I am thinking about beginnings. I changed the first page of my novel The Whirlstone just before Christmas; this was the result of discussions in our writing group where we focused on first lines and the opening paragraphs of stories. It’s always difficult throwing out sections of your work, especially when you’re trying to set the scene in fantasy novels.

If you would like to read the updated version of The Whirlstone and the first three chapters, please click on this link.

Finally, here are the opening paragraphs of two of my favourite children’s novels.

There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. His parents called him Eustace Clarence and his masters called him Scrubb. I can’t tell you how his friends spoke to him, for he had none. He didn’t call his Father and Mother ‘Father’ and ‘Mother’, but Harold and Alberta. They were very up-to-date and advanced people. They were vegetarians, non-smokers and tea-totallers and wore a special kind of underclothes. In their house there was very little furniture and very few clothes on the beds and the windows were always open.

This is from C.S.Lewis, ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,’ first published in September 1952; the third book in the Chronicles of Narnia series.

I love this opening – Eustace almost deserved his name; you feel that C.S.Lewis doesn’t approve of the parents, even though he calls them up-to-date and advanced people; and what exactly are their special kind of underclothes?

The second extract is the opening of ‘The Hobbit’, by J.R.R.Tolkien, first published in 1937.

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, not yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat; it was a hobbit hole, and that means comfort.

As with many of the best openings, Tolkien uses opposites to grab out interest and we are hooked after two sentences. What is a hobbit and how does it live in a comfortable hole?

If you have a favourite first line or opening paragraph to a book, please tell me about it in the comments box.

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