Hey baby, come here often?

I’m not a photographer, but I can picture us together.

Are you religious? Because you’re the answer to all my prayers.

Do you know what my shirt is made of? Boyfriend material.

Even if there wasn’t gravity on earth, I’d still fall for you.

Are you a parking ticket? ‘Cause you’ve got fine written all over you.

Not gonna lie. Back in the day, these pick-up lines would probably have worked on me. Yes, they’re cheesy, but they immediately tell me something about my future paramour. He or she is funny. And funny is the golden ticket for me.

Opening lines in books do the same thing.

A good opening sets the stage for everything that happens next. It gives you a glimpse of the character you’ll be traveling with on this 300-page journey. It gives you a hint of where and when you are. It lets you know whether you’re going to laugh, or be terrified, or skeeved out … or all of the above.

A REALLY good opening does all that in the first sentence. As you can imagine, that’s quite difficult.

So let’s take a trip to my local literary bar and do some speed dating.

Here are your potential suitors. They’re on their best behavior, wearing their spiffiest clothes and smelling marvelous. Let’s hear what they have to say to woo you.

THE HIGHWAYMAN – Craig Johnson

There is a canyon in the heart of Wyoming carved by a river called Wind and a narrow, opposing, two-lane highway that follows its every curve like a lover.

THE BLACK WIDOW – Wendy Corsi Staub

“Some things,” Carmen used to say, “just don’t feel right until the sun goes down.”

THE SEMESTER OF OUR DISCONTENT – Cynthia Kuhn

When summoned by the department chair, one shows up on time.

BLOOD ON THE TRACKS – Barbara Nickless

His life wasn’t worth spit in a hard rain.

TREBLE AT THE JAM FEST – Leslie Budewitz

Blame it on the rhubarb.

DESIGNER DIRTY LAUNDRY – Diane Vallere

When you wear fishnet stockings to the grocery store, people tend to stare.

CLASS REUNIONS ARE MURDER – Libby Klein

I was being bullied by stationery.

HUNTING HOUR – Margaret Mizushima

“Whom do you trust, Maddie?”

FICTION CAN BE MURDER – Becky Clark

Melinda Walter settled her lean Pilates body—the maintaining of which took all her free time and could fund North Korea’s military for a year—into the soft leather driver’s seat of her sleek red 1959 classic Corvette.

BANANA BAMBOOZLE – Becky Clark and Ted Hardwick

Using only one hand, Cassidy Dunne silently unwrapped a fun-size Snickers hidden in her sundress pocket.

These are just a few individuals loitering against the wall near my neighborhood office. Would you enjoy spending more time with them? Grab them and steal away to a quiet corner where you can be alone? Take them to bed? (You vixen, you.) Which made your heart go pitty-pat? Is your heart already taken by another? Are you willing to share?

Do you feel jilted by this metaphor yet?

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