Sunday, July 24, 2011

Opening Lines--The YA Paranormal Romance Edition

So. It's official. Today I'm kicking off an Opening Lines series!! 

*shimmies* 

And I've decided to start with a genre that is near and dear to my heart: YA paranormal romance.

Below you will find a few opening lines from a few YA paranormal romance novels. With this exercise, I aim to see which types of openings characterize the genre (and why I think they work). 

Le opening lines:

"If there's a Hell on Earth, it's high school"--Lisa Desrochers, Personal Demons.

"I'd always welcomed war, but in battle my passion rose unbidden"--Andrea Cremer, Nightshade.

"Around midnight, her eyes at last took shape"--Lauren Kate, Fallen.

"There were only two kinds of people in our town"--Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Beautiful Creatures.

"Violet Ambrose wandered away from the safety of her father as she listened to the harmony of sounds weaving delicately around her"--Kimberly Derting, The Body Finder.

"I walked into biology and my jaw fell open"--Becca Fitzpatrick, Hush, Hush (this is from the first chapter, since the prologue is in another POV).

"I remember lying in the snow, a small red spot of warm going cold, surrounded by wolves"--Maggie Stiefvater, Shiver.

"I'd never given much thought to how I would die--though I'd had reason enough in the last few months--but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this"--Stephenie Meyer, Twilight.


Okay. What do we see here? 

Some opening lines are all about Character + Voice (Personal Demons, Fallen, The Body Finder, Beautiful Creatures). This is one of the hardest openings to pull off, but oh so awesome when done correctly (as in the above examples).  

Nightshade's opening line is a mix between Character + Voice + Action. We get the feeling the MC is in the middle of a fight, and if not, he/she is bracing themselves for it. Either way, I want to know which one it is. 

In Hush, Hush, Shiver, and Twilight, we get Character + Cliffhanger = Tension. In all honesty, this is the one that always hooks me. I am a sucker for that OMG WHAT IS HAPPENING kind of opening, but I need to "feel" the character as well. I want to get a taste of their personality while their worlds are being thrown out of balance. Whether it's a surprised student, a victim of unfriendly wolves, or someone who knew their tragic fate and faced it anyway, these openings show that despair readers can relate to. You're rooting for these people, mainly because their circumstances leave you no choice but to sympathize with them. 

So. If you're working on a YA paranormal romance, consider these types of openings. And makes yours even better :)

Now tell me: which one of these openings works for you as a reader/writer? Are there any other types of openings you've noticed in YA paranormal romance books?

7 comments:

  1. I love opening lines...which is probably why I tend to struggle and take forever to pick out the PERFECT opening line and ending line because it sets the mood for the whole story.

    I think Personal Demons has one of the best opening lines of any story and of course (if it qualifies as paranormal romance), Dying should have been the worst moment of my life- The Ghost and The Goth by Stacey Kade.

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  2. I absolutely LOVE that opening line in Personal Demons!! Luc's voice is so funny and honest. *swoons*

    And WHOA, I feel embarrassed for not having read The Ghost and The Goth yet... *blushes* But I think that opening line is amazing--it's unexpected, intriguing (why wouldn't dying be the worst moment of someone's life?), and TOTALLY leaves you hanging.

    Awesome example, Magan!

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  3. Great examples! There are some first lines that take my breath away.

    Like WITHER by Lauren DeStefano: “I wait. They keep us in the dark for so long we lose sense of our eyelids.”

    I'm currently reading THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner: "He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air."

    And then there's the tragic IF I STAY by Gayle Forman: “Everyone thinks it was because of the snow. And in a way, I suppose that’s true.”

    And I love the beginning of Twilight. VERY exciting.

    If there's not a lot of tension, I like to be surprised or entertained, like in Kiersten White's Paranormalcy: "'Wait - did you - You just yawned!" The vampire's arms, raised over his head in the classic Dracula pose, dropped to his sides. He pulled his exaggerated white fangs back behind his lips. 'What, imminent death isn't exciting enough for you?'"

    Great post!!

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  4. First of all, thank you for this excellent post. I love this type of analysis.
    These three hooked me: "I remember lying in the snow, a small red spot of warm going cold, surrounded by wolves"--Maggie Stiefvater, Shiver.
    "I'd never given much thought to how I would die--though I'd had reason enough in the last few months--but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this"--Stephenie Meyer, Twilight.
    "If there's a Hell on Earth, it's high school"--Lisa Desrochers, Personal Demons.
    Having read the first two books, the first line of each caused me to want to read further.
    The first line of Paranormalcy—“Wait—did you—You just yawned!” also grabbed me.

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  5. Awesome post. I'd have to say that all those hook me. I'm one for the character + cliffhanger = tension start myself.

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  6. I like PERSONAL DEMONS and HUSH, HUSH. The tension thing doesn't tend to work for me because I'd rather not start off with tension that isn't actually present in the beginning of a book. To me it feels like a distraction to how boring the first chapter will be ;) Voice is always the most important to me, since it tells me if I can stay with the MC through the whole book. Tension is going to be there, of course, but if I can't stand the MC then the tension hardly matters. My opinion, of course!

    But now I realize I should probably work on my own first line a bit ;)

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  7. Lots of great insight here. I really like the options.

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