Where's Papa going with that ax?
As soon as certain questions are asked, you realize that you, too, would very much like to know the answer. Have you ever been at a cocktail party and overheard a question that turned your whole attention toward it like a needle seeking north? This is one of those. With this beginning, you know something's going to happen. And this question leads directly into the book's source of tension. Fabulous.
I come from a family with a lot of dead people.
Voice. I will wade through dim and perilous fens of slush for voice. And here it's matched with a sense of humor. I'm hooked.
In the great green room, there was a telephone and a red balloon.
Cadence. The order of these syllables and the way in which they rhyme forces the voice to slow. Compare this to the first line of Madeline, which trips off the tongue. Madeline could be read very quickly, but this is a bedtime book, and it makes the reader go softly.
One day my mama caught me paintin' pictures on the floor
and the ceiling
and the walls
and the curtains
and the door
and I heard my mama holler like I never did before--
"Ya ain't a-gonna paint no more!"
Rhythm. Here is a book that would have every chance of sounding idiotic in a query letter. But read that first page aloud, and you're practically out of your seat with the irrepressible energy of it. Love it.
So here's the deal: send me your first line (or your first two lines, if you must) and I will post a select few to comment on. Send them to my email with CONTEST in the subject line.
This contest opens now, and closes as soon as I've had enough. Maybe tomorrow.