Fabulous first lines
plus a book based on Korean legend, gouache paintings, and a random fun fact.
Thoughts about writing
I’ve been paying attention to first lines.
I didn’t use to. But since embarking on the
arduous exciting journey to write my own novel, I’ve been learning about the importance of the humble and unassuming first line.
That first sentence, when done well, determines how and where the story starts. It shows the voice. The tone. The promise within the pages to come.
That’s why it’s not unusual for authors to spend an enormous amount of time agonising over the perfect first line.
After all, a book is about enticing readers to go from start to end. From chapter to chapter. From line to line.
And the challenge begins from the very opening.
Here are some of my favourite first lines:
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”
– The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkein
“Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy.”
– The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
– Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
“The real story isn’t half as pretty as the one you’ve heard.”
– Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik
“There was once a young man who wished to gain his Heart’s Desire.”
– Stardust, Neil Gaiman
“Here is a small fact: You are going to die.”
– The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
“They’ve never found the body of the first and only boy who broke my heart.”
– The Shadows Between Us, Tricia Levenseller
What are some of your favourites?
Books, books, books
Every year, I set myself a reading challenge on Goodreads. And every year, my thoughts constantly bounce from “Maybe I should have upped the challenge with more books” to “I’m going to fail my challenge this year”.
Anyhow. I’m currently at 56/70 books, and I believe that’s good progress. *pats self on the back*
Some titles I’ve read and loved recently
The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh was such a gorgeous book. If you think that cover looks beautiful, wait till you dive into the pages. It’s a YA fantasy that’s inspired by a Korean legend, and it was whimsical, fantastical, and ethereal.
I enjoyed reading it so much, and was quite reluctant to leave the world of the Sea God when I finished! If you enjoy Asian myths and legends, and you like Studio Ghibli films—you should give this a try.
I also highly recommend the Lady Sherlock series by Sherry Thomas. This is a gender-flipped reimagining of Sherlock Holmes, and I absolutely loved the characters, the mysteries, and the plot twists. And of course, the slow-burn romance ❤️
There are currently six books in the series, with the seventh slotted to be published in 2023. And I just don’t want the series to ever end!
Once in awhile I also like to challenge myself to read some classics.
I don’t know about you, but I find the idea of reading classics so romantic. And the actual reading so… hard.
Yet, if I persevere and push on, I know I will enjoy the book in the end. Not to mention learn from the prose and storytelling. After all, these books are classics for a reason.
All that to say, I’m currently reading The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein.
On the art side
My experiment with gouache continues.
Here’s a piece done with both watercolour and gouache:
And another one with just gouache:
I’m pleasantly surprised with how this ballerina turned out, and I really like it! I have a feeling that I’m going to play with gouache for a long time.
Other bits and pieces
Best piece of creative advice I read this week: “Done is better than perfect.” I love it. A beautiful reminder from Jami Attenberg of Craft Talk. Go read her full post.
I had resisted watching Emma (starring Anya Taylor-Joy) for the longest time, because I was strangely afraid that I would be disappointed by the adaptation. The trailer didn’t help either, as it left me assuming that it was going to be an over-the-top, doesn’t-make-much-sense type of a movie. But a few weeks ago I finally watched it, and… IT WAS GOOD.
A little random 🐨 fun fact for you: Koala fingerprints are extremely similar to humans’. So much so that they could be mistaken for our own—and even taint crime scenes! (An idea for crime/mystery writers, perhaps?)
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