Caricature drawn by Worderella
Everyone talks about how important a first line is, how important the first page is, of any good piece of writing. We go on about how the idea needs to grab the reader, to hook them as one might hook a fish. But we never really give our own examples, unless we’re sure we’ve got it down. And the thing is, I don’t know if I have it down. I’m fairly certain I don’t, if only because I’m a type A perfectionist who second-guesses herself a lot.
So this is what I’m going to do: Below is the hook, and first lines of my working!title Trentwood’s Orphan. Give me your honest opinion, otherwise, I’ll never learn my lesson. But… also keep in mind that this is First Draft B, so I realize it’s still pretty rough.
As always, this is my writing and it is copyright protected, so please, let’s not spread this around and take it for yourself.
The hook for the novel is as follows: A grieving daughter encounters love and ghosts in Victorian England.
And so the novel begins…
Clouds, dark and thick, descend over Mary Winslow as she flees the manor house at Compton Beauchamp. Her black walking skirts swirl around her rushing feet, the gravel drive crunching with each step until she slips through the high wrought-iron gate and out into the green English lane, where falling leaves spin and dance with a small eddy. She shoves her gloved hands into her black muffle and her lips press together against what she fears is a sob. There is a figure to her right and she jumps away, scratching her back along the brick wall that flanks the gate on either side.
“What made you do it?” Lord Trentwood says. It is windy, and there is a bite to the air, but he is without a coat and stands playing with his watch, his black boots gleaming in the gray light.
Not you, she thinks. Mary stares at Trentwood, taking in his sandy hair lined with gray and irritated expression. How he stands without needing her arm as a support. How he can watch her without forcing a smile through the ever-encroaching pain. I can’t do this again.
Above, boughs sway and whisper as Trentwood follows the silent Mary down the shadowed, tree-lined lane. “What made you accept him?”
Her low voice is raw when she finally speaks. “I felt alone.”
“In that house?”
Mary’s mouth twists. “Well… lonely, then.” She scrambles over an opening in a low stone wall to walk across a grass field. Her skirt catches on a grasping weed, and she pauses to yank it free.