First Paragraphs

Nathan's concluded his third annual first paragraph contest, and as part of his roundup, he lists the "common tropes that I picked up on:

- There were quite a lot openings with setting/rising suns and characters bathed in red colors, as well as moons and characters bathed in twilight.
- Girls looking in mirrors/brushing their hair/looking in mirrors while brushing their hair
- Holy cow, or should I say Holy Dead Bloody Cow were there a lot of corpses and blood in the first paragraphs. "Blood" was used 181 times, and that doesn't count the euphemisms. Not necessarily a bad thing (and one of the bloody ones made the finals), but wow.
- You wrote a lot of paragraphs in the second person.
- One common trope involves a person who is dying but feels all detached from the experience. Sort of like: "I am dying, but I feel nothing but a bemused disinterest about it. Isn't it curious that I'm dying? I suppose I should be scared right now. This is peculiar indeed."
- Waking up/waking up in a panic/waking up in a burning down house/waking up from a really good dream/waking up from a really bad nightmare/waking up and not wanting to wake up/waking up and realizing actually dead.
- Gripping the steering wheel tightly
- Contemplating the depth of an important moment, especially: "If only this one thing hadn't happened, then everything would have been different." "It was just like any other day, only then this one thing happened." "This was the precise moment when everything changed."
- The pull the chair out from under the reader several times paragraph, like this: "Statement. Well, it wasn't that per se, it was somewhat like this. Or should I say rather more like this. Still, it was indeed kind of like that original statement. Only kind of not really."
- Common phrases: "consumed with fear," "last thing I/he/she wanted/expected, "washed over me/him/her, "top of my/his/her lungs," "farthest thing from my/his/her mind," "(blank) - literally," "they/my mom/my grandmother say(s) that (aphorism).""

I haven't used any of those! Woo hoo! Not in The Face of A Lion and not in Rosa's story either.

Yet, if done well, some of these openings can be really gripping. Who can forget the first lines from Diana Gabaldon's Voyager: "He was dead. However, his nose throbbed painfully, which he thought odd in the circumstances. While he placed considerable trust in the understanding and mercy of his Creator, he harbored that residue of elemental guilt that made all men fear the chance of hell. Still, all he had ever heard of hell made him think it unlikely that the torments reserved for its luckless inhabitants could be restricted to a sore nose."


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