Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Doing the research...

One thing several of the agents and editors I talked to last week agreed on was the value of getting short stories published.  Especially in the "big" markets within my genre.

So, this means Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine for me.  Now, I've submitted to them before and last time got the "send something else" rejection letter so it's time for me to whip up something else to send them. 

However, this time I'm doing some indepth research first.  Yesterday I picked up the latest copy of EQ at Books a Million and today started reading.

Right now, I'm focusing on hooks or opening lines.  Here's the opening lines of the stories in this issue.

1.  Agatha Canford said, “No, no, no,” and leaned forward to tap Quincannon smartly on the knee.

2.  Kieran sat on his bike at the edge of the wood line and watched the new people transfer their furnishings from the van to the house.

3.  Salvatore (Sally) met with the godfather, Franco Calderella, in the study of his Staten Island Mansion.

4.  The guy who’d just tried to kill me didn’t look like much.

5.  How could I, Josie Welford, licensee of the White Hare, waste a whole day worrying about putting right a perfectly innocent mistake?

6.  At least the caller had the good grace to wait until Amy and I had finished making love.

7.  "It's me!"
    "I'm in the lounge."
    "Good day?"
    "Very.  Exceptionally good.  Brilliantly good.  Yours?"

8.  "What's going on?"
     I'm in my own house minding my own buisness, and he motions me over.

9.  The Hotel Mozambique.  Aptly named.

10.  He didn't even lift his head when she put the cup dowin in front of him.

11.  I suppose I remember it better than the other, countless other, picnics of my childhood, and I suppose the reason for this is the murder.

I don't know how many times I've heard it said and been told that you must hook the reader with your first line.  And I don't know about you, but I struggle to get the best first line I possibly can. 

So, what do you think?  Which first line (The ones that started with dialogue, I added a couple extra lines.) catches your attention and causes you to want to read more?  What about them do you like? 

Any opening line that you don't particulary care for?  Why, why not?

Remember, no author bashing, just good discussion please. :-)


Cheryl said...

Hey, Speck-

I like line #4. It peaks my interested because I now not only want to know why this guy wants to kill the mc, but who is he? And I also want to know who the mc is. What things are going on with the mc that makes him/her a target? What has brought on this situation? These are the questions that would pop into my mind and pull me forward into your story. The other lines don't spark my interest as much. That is just my humble opinion. I hope this helps.


Jaleta Clegg said...

Line #4 was the best for me, too. The others just came across as clunky or boring. But I don't usually read much mystery, so maybe I'm not the best judge.

The ones starting with dialogue were also a bit more catchy. It establishes the tone and voice of the character right away.

Gay said...

For a mystery opening, gotta go with #4. The victim knows his killer? Yikes! That really makes you stop and think. #10 made my mind stop and ask questions too. What was so important about that cup?

Anonymous said...

#10 caught my interest. I want to know what held his attention so that he didn't look up when a cup was put down in front of him.

Jean said...

I haven't read all the stories yet but #4 is my favorite opening line for sure.

Joan said...

#4 and #6 caught my attention. The others? If I saw them in an anthology or magazine, and recognized the authors' names, I might read them. Otherwise: notsomuch.

Nicole L Rivera said...

I like #4. It is short and sweet, something I find important in an hook, and it makes me go, "Hmm".

Cheryl said...

I like #4 the best, though #11 is great too. The first one tells you that something major just happened, the second relays a memory of a murder at an unusual place.

The first three didn't do much for me, but #9 has me curious why that is an apt name.


Shalena said...

I liked #4 best, with #11 coming in second.