Sunday, September 07, 2014

Opening Lines

Our Saturday morning writer’s group met yesterday.  It has been a couple of months since we last met. The last time we met at the Breathe Chapel it was a very sunny day.  We sat outside with the sun on our faces.  Yesterday we were huddled inside with dark clouds threatening rain outside.  We kept the door open for the late arrivals making things just a little chillier than I would have liked.  But the warm companionship made up for it.

My friend, Heather, was reporting back on her twenty minutes of time spent with Isobel Dixon from the Book/Literary Festival that ended a week or two ago. Running the opening laps of her poetry journey, Heather was looking for the inside edge – useful tips from the people who know about all necessary things poetic.  

Part of the “debriefing” included the need for a good opening chapter of a book you hope to submit to a publisher or an agent.  With a number of clients already on their books time is precious.  If you haven’t caught their attention by the time they get to the bottom of page 1, it may be too late.

Opening lines are very important.  We had a go at identifying some first lines of books, films, poems and songs.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife”

Shame on me I got this one wrong.  I had the right author but wrong book.

“All children, except one, grow up”

I got this one right – not because I have read the book but I have seen numerous versions of the film.  Who else could it be anyway?

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”

This was on the tip of my tongue and remained stubbornly there.

“It was a bright, cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen”

This I identified as “Tom’s Midnight Garden” – OK so “a bright cold day” doesn’t really match up with midnight.  It was “striking thirteen” that I was focussing on.

There were other first lines.  I did quite well with the songs, quite badly with the films and failed miserably to identify any of the poets.  Maybe that’s the way forward – set everything to music!

Thinking about first lines and the necessity to make a good first impression I was reminded of a poem that I had written a few years ago.  

Ten Seconds

Ten seconds -
The time I have
To impress you
Ten seconds -
The time you have
To be impressed

So I appeal your senses and
Arrange my attire
To match your standards
Skirt lowered, neckline raised
Make-up applied not to the face
But to conceal the tattoo on my arm

I can see
You’re impressed
An unrestrained smile
Ten seconds
And I
Impressed you

If only
Jesus was so
Easily impressed

I cannot appeal to His senses or
Arrange my attire
To match His standards
Skirt lowered, neckline raised
Makes no difference
He sees the tattoo on my arm
And other more serious things
I would like to conceal

You embrace me
Only if I fall within
Your acceptable parameters
He embraces me
Anyway
And by His grace I fall
Within His

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