I was just wondering if this opening line is good.

A bit of back story: I have been thinking of starting a serial about normal high school stuff, except overly exaggerated as a comedy. However, it took me a long time to think of what angle I should take, until I heard the song #Selfie. Then, one thing lead to another, and I came up with Hashtag, my latest endeavor.

Now, for the sample. I should say that there is some cussing and inappropriate language:


So, today this bitch Anna decided to try to tell people that she slept with her boyfriend. I know that that's a fucking lie, though, because Todd is my brother, and I know he wouldn't sleep with that slut in, like, a million years.


Do you think it's good enough? It's gonna be a blog-fic, and it is going to be hilarious, but I want the first sentence to completely capture its essence: a stupid, plotless comedy along the lines of a much-more inappropriate Napoleon Dynamite.


Doesn't grab me.


Flow isn't there, general hostile tone kind of turned me off (bitch, slut), doesn't really have any impact. I kind of dislike the main character just from reading it, and I get the impression I wouldn't like the brother or the girl (s)he's referring to.


I agree with Wildbow, too harsh and angry for a comedy piece! You need something funny to start. Maybe a funny conversation between a couple of the characters. Maybe the character could be teasing his/her brother about his girlfriend.


I'm with them. If I want to read something funny, I'm probably not going to choose the blog of someone who uses hateful and sexist language :/


You've got a great freedom when writing in first person to really hit home who this person is in the very first line. Give me a reason to like them, to laugh at them, to think 'ah what a clever insight, I would like to continue reading this character's insight'.


Some reference, Douglas Adams always has incredibly funny, perfect opening lines. As does Terry Pratchett. Personal preference maybe, but I would always argue absurdity is greater than shock factor.


Not a good line for a comedy. Unless it is a comedy about horrible things happening to horrible people. The only time I have someone talk like that is when I intend for the audience to dislike them.


I don't believe the first sentence does what you intend for it to do, though I have no problem with the cuss words. They can be helpful as an indicator that something in that day's update didn't go right. If a person is mad because someone just dropped something heavy on them or did something exceptionally mean toward them, I would fully expect them to start off cussing.


Plus, the cusswords they use can tell you about the character. Like a character from a dimension without gods in their major religions almost never using god in cusswords like "Goddammit" or as an expression, "God, will she ever shut up?". Or Eric Cartman's repeated use of the word Jew as a derogatory term.


Mainly, though, I just don't see what's supposed to be funny about that opening.


It didn't work for me. That seems like a teen hissy fit, not something that is funny.


Humor is one of those hard ones to capture.


I'm failing to see how that could be funny as an opener, we have no context and/or experience with the character. There is nothing to contrast it to.


"Sometimes, you wish you had a pickle. Stick it on a hamburger and you have a satisfying meal. Pop it in your mouth and you have a satisfying snack. Snap it over the head of Anna, my brother's bitch of a girlfriend, and you have a satisfying feeling. Yeah, uh huh, but no, no way in hell did my brother jump into bed with her, no matter what she told all her friends at school. I don't know what got into her if she thinks anyone would believe it. Maybe a pickle."


I agree with everyone else. There's a way to be funny without leaning on the "shock" of swearing to jar a reader. Good luck!


So, after trying to write the first entry, I decided to ditch comedy, as not only did I not enjoy it, but it came out really bad. So, I started thinking about something else to write, and came up with The Men in Black Coats, a horror novel about people who go to small towns, people disappear every day that they're there, and they leave after a week. I like that one much better, and the story is much more interesting/existant. Here's the first line of that one:


The men in black coats came to our town, and everything changed.


Exceptionally bland and kind of cliche, if I'm going to be honest.


Prompts a lot of fire nation jokes:

http://sararyan.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/firenation.jpg


There's a lot of Stephen King in that line, not only because of his Low Men in Yellow Coats, but also because of The Gunslinger: "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."


The men in black coats came to our town, and everything changed.



I'd say the "and everything changed" part is what tips it over the edge of blandness, as Wildbow put it. Men in black coats? Okay, sure. That's a sorta cliche, but it's only the first line. Men in black coats at least provide imagery for the reader. "Everything changed" is just a generic stock phrase (most likely meant to add a sense of impact to the text, but just ends up feeling dull and oversimplified).


Though, at the same time, I wouldn't place too much value in the importance of an opening line. It's good to think about, sure--but you should be thinking about ALL of your lines. How much work they do. How much they inform, establish, progress, etc. If a line isn't doing much work, then there's a good chance it won't be very interesting to read. Most readers will cut you some slack on this, especially in the first few paragraphs, but if you let it keep happening, they're gonna get bored real quick-like.


Personally, I think folks make a bit too much fuss about the opening line. It's a fun exercise, examining the first lines of successful works and trying to glean insight from them, but let's take a step back and remember that people are NOT going to be put off by your first line alone. Even if your first line is absolutely horrendous, people will at least look at the second line for an explanation why. Heck, you could employ that as a strategy, even. Make the first line incredibly dull and basic, then follow it up with a line that completely subverts everything that the opener established.


Don't get me wrong. I know our attention spans are short 'n all in these noisy modern times, but that's why ALL of your lines are important, not just the ones at the beginning or end of a chapter. And really, with the opening line, you already have your reader's attention. They've already made the decision to start reading. You don't need to worry about their eyes glazing over until at least a few sentences later.


I agree with George. Don't get stuck on line 1! That's what revisions are for. Maybe you're stuck at the beginning because you haven't figured out the whole story yet? I usually don't find a good beginning until the entire book has been written out first. :x


Beginnings usually suck. I'm sure it's a rule or something.


Serial readers are really forgiving, they put up with a lot. That gives you a bit more freedom than a published book.


I can't say ive ever put down a book because the first line was horrible. Not even the first page, most of the ones I've put down are the ones that don't really interest me by about the first third, so you have time.


If you have interesting characters, then people will read.