Monday, May 20, 2013

Why This First Line Works

“The Friday before winter break, my mom packed me an overnight bag and a few deadly weapons and took me to a new boarding school.”  THE TITAN’S CURSE, Rick Riordan.

The first line of THE TITAN’S CURSE stopped me in my reading tracks.  

I studied it to figure out why such a simple declarative sentence grabbed me.

A few words told a huge amount about the narrator.  “My mom.”   “Winter break.”   “A new boarding school.”  Obviously a modern kid below the age of driving.

Then the juxtaposition of the common-- a boy having his bag packed by his mom to go to a new boarding school, and the uncommon--a few deadly weapons.  The mundane juxtaposed with the dangerous.  

Since this was a young adult fantasy adventure, I knew I wasn’t reading about a mass murderer family on the way to massacre some kids.  Some adventure was beginning.  

In just one sentence I was given enough information to get a sense of the book and the main character, and a surprise within that information.  

I’m also given several questions I want answered.  Why the weapons?  Why the new boarding school?  Why is his mom not upset with deadly weapons?

All this will keep me reading.

Now, that’s a good first sentence.

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