Monday, June 24, 2024

Week #26 – Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Last year on Mondays we had fun with books. This year, we'll look at most of the same books but also some new ones, and see if the first line [or first paragraph] met the goal of a first line which is ==> to hook the reader's attention.

Here are some tips on writing a first line

Week #26 – Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

First published: January 1, 1818

Here's what the story is about: Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is an 1818 novel written by English author Mary Shelley when she was just 18 years old. Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist, creates a living creature by piecing together body parts of cadavers and then giving it life in an unorthodox scientific experiment. He is then horrified by what he made and does not give it a name. The monster initially seeks affection and acceptance, but inspires loathing and fear in everyone who meets it.

First line/paragraph:
Letter 1
To Mrs. Saville, England.
St. Petersburgh, Dec. 11th, 17—.
You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings. I arrived here yesterday, and my first task is to assure my dear sister of my welfare and increasing confidence in the success of my undertaking.

The story starts with four letters before beginning with Chapter 1. So apparently the letters are similar to prologues. We have first person POV and a letter dated December 11 so the beginning of winter. The character is engaged in “the commencement of an enterprise” which the letter's recipient regarded “with such evil forebodings”. The letter writer assures the recipient that no disaster has occurred and s/he [we don't know yet] has confidence in ultimate success. Other than knowing the plot involves a probably-risky activity at the beginning of winter in the 18th century, we don't know much about the plot or even the main character yet.

This story is more than 200 years old and although it starts somewhat “in media res”, it's not hooking me yet.

Does this first line/paragraph hook your attention? If you had never heard of this story, would you buy this book in 2024? Knowing the story, would you change the first line? Tell us in the comments!

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