I’m sure at one point or another we’ve all been in that situation when someone comes up and gives us their best pick-up line. That one liner is so important because it can tell us a lot about a person in just a matter of seconds. I remember once this CUTE cowboy came up to me and said, “Hey Darlin, I really want to dance but the only person I know in this place is my friend and he’s just too ugly.” I turned to his friend who tipped his hat in my direction at that precise moment. Unfortunately we were in Virginia Beach, not Texas and it was clear that the guy was no more a cowboy then I was. So instead of coming across as cool and coy, he came across as corny.
I remember many, many years ago during my single years telling my friends that I was going to write a book on the best and worst pick up lines:
“Did it hurt when you fell from Heaven?”
“Tonight’s sky is missing two stars because there they are in your eyes.”
“Are you from Tennessee, cause you’re the only ten-I-see.”
Some good, some bad, some really bad and some that just make your mouth fall open in complete shock.
Like this one:
My girlfriend and I had worked our way through this crowded club trying to find a seat at the bar but the place was packed. I turned to her and shouted over the crowd, “All the seats are taken.” This guy spun around on his bar-stool and gave me his big one liner. “Honey, as long as I have a face, you’ll have a place to sit.” True story! I can’t make this up.
Let me get to my point, which really has nothing to do with getting hit on in bars. It’s to bring to your attention how important that first line truly is. I went to a workshop a couple of weeks ago where our guest speaker was a literary agent whom graciously agreed to critique the first pages of our WIP’s. As the pages were read aloud, every once in a while the agent would shout out, “That’s a great first line.” Sometimes the reader would be a few paragraphs in when the agent would yell, “There’s your first line right there.”
She was very honest with us and told us if the story was something she’d be interested in or if it was something she’d pass on. It didn’t take me long to notice that she seemed to have a pattern. If the story didn’t start with a good first line or if she didn’t find a good first line somewhere in the first page, she passed.
This got me wondering. With the fierce competition in the writing world due to hundreds of submissions being sent daily, are there agents out there that never make it past the first line? If that first line doesn’t sweep them off their feet do they even bother to go any further? I hope that’s not the way it works but let’s face it, it could be. Sure sounded like it with this particular agent.
I bet every writer out there can recite by heart the first line of their manuscript without having to look at it. I can. Two of my one liners, I decided were worth an agent reading on, two, not so much. Then I had that ah-ha moment when you see something in a completely different perspective. Typing that first line is such a monumental moment. It’s more than just the first line of your manuscript, it’s when the story that has been spinning around in your head for days, months, years, finally meets paper.
This is HUGE! Of course it should be great. In fact, it should be fantastic. So I challenge you today to go back and look at your first line. Remember, this is your big pick-up line. Is it great? Is it fantastic? Will it keep an agent reading? Then once you figure out your awesome one liner, do everything in your power to make the lines that follow just as good.
Give me your best one liner.
Don’t forget to Dream Big!