I have long felt that the first line in any book needs to be not just great but POWERFUL!!!
In screenwriting I think of it as the logline.
That first taste of what a reader is in store for if they choose to read on.
I 'd love to keep a file of all the most fabulous first lines. I'm pretty sure I've heard a great speech from Richard Peck in regards to an obession with first lines. It's been so long I hope it was him, and that I am not confusing him with some other author! In any case, that speech I heard, probably over 10 years ago, was incredibly well crafted and wonderful.
Back on topic...
That first line needs to strike a chord in the heart of the reader. It needs to hint at the promise of what's to come, it needs to have a bit of a time frame in it, not to mention that it needs to be quirky and unique and funny too.
The novel I'm currently working on has been tough. I don't want it to sound trite. I don't want to just do what everyone else has already done. How hard is that! My novel has a strong death element. Everyone's novel seems like it has a death element anymore.
How do I make my idea reflect, not only me, but what I need to happen in the script?
I admit it, I have an obesssion with death. I don't think I am all that unique in that respect, I do know I can trace the origins of my obsession. I have some powerful experiences that are just waiting to be warped into the weave of a novel. But how do I make my novel stand out from the very beginning?
I don't know if I've done it. I'm a LONG way from any kind of finished draft. It's just that that first line is so critical for me, I have to get at the least the beginnings of that first line on paper, so that my novel will start behaving the way it should.
I think I have a workable draft...
It ain't true that you see your life flash before your eyes when you die. I'm one to know, seeing as how I've already done it twice. Well, almost.
Now back to work! The ideas are coming faster than I can type.