Take My Advice (my article in Booksbywomen)

February 23, 2021 | By Marti Leimbach | Reply



I remember as a child my mother listing a whole bunch of first lines from bestselling books.

“The primroses were over,” she announced theatrically, referring to the opening to Watership Down. 

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” she said, quoting from Anna Karenina. I thought she’d come up with this idea herself, so I asked, “Are we unhappy in our own way?”

She dragged deeply from her cigarette, exhaled, then swatted at the smoke. “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”

I held out an ashtray for the length of ash bowing down from her cigarette and she dutifully tapped. 

“Mother, I don’t know what you are saying,” I admitted.

“Bestsellers,” she said by way of explanation. “You need a great first line.”

My mother, a journalist, spent her life at the typewriter, so her advice on writing felt credible.  I nodded, believing her when she said that bestsellers required a single mesmerizing first line that signalled an unaccountable genius that would bring readers to their knees….

Full article here: Advice on Writing Advice


original artwork for this post by Shon Ejai, on pixabay

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