Will O’ the Wisp

I have many shelves of graphic novels, surprisingly few of which came from DC or Marvel (to be fair, I’m not counting Vertigo as “DC.”)

A number of these are unusual, out-of-the-mainstream books I discovered browsing the shelves of my local comic store.

A recent acquisition was “Will O’ the Wisp,” by Tom Hammock and Megan Hutchison. The beautiful hardcover binding first got my attention in the store, with gold trim and an actual metal latch on the book.

The story is about Aurora Grimeon, a suddenly-orphaned girl who ends up with her grandfather in a Louisiana swamp filled with evil and magic. It’s well done, although the action is a bit hard to follow in a couple of places.

But it was the first page that pretty much made the sale for me:

Will O' the Wisp First Page_200dpi

First lines and Fritz Leiber

Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser by Michael Whelan

I saw a writing contest a short time ago where the first line of a book was submitted to see if it “hooked” anyone.

(The first lines of my three books aren’t that exciting, with the possible exception of Roger Mantis, but that’s just a slight alteration of the first line of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis.)

Last week I started re-reading Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and Gray Mouser series (I like reading my old favorites). These books are mostly short stories, and I began noticing how great the first lines were.

Below the break, I’ll list the first lines from some of these short stories (and the second ones for good measure) under their associated collection titles.

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The 2013 Bulwer-Lytton winners

Listed by category.

As in earlier contests, I think a few of these are actually pretty good, especially if they hadn’t been forced into a single sentence. Might be one reason I’m having trouble selling books…

A few favorites:

Betty had eyes that said come here, lips that said kiss me, arms and torso that said hold me all night long, but the rest of her body said, “Fillet me, cover me in cornmeal, and fry me in peanut oil”; romance wasn’t easy for a mermaid.
– Jordan Kaderli, Dallas, TX

Martha Lessen broke horses – not in the same way she broke her mother’s good china, nor the way she broke the privy door out back of the bunkhouse, not even the way she broke the heart of Gunther Svenson, which, in that case, is quite surprising since one would think breaking a horse and breaking an ass would be quite similar.
– Kevin Fry, Callaway, MD

It was such a beautiful night; the bright moonlight illuminated the sky, the thick clouds floated leisurely by just above the silhouette of tall, majestic trees, and I was viewing it all from the front row seat of the bullet hole in my car trunk.
– Tonya Lavel, Barbados, West Indies

He had a way with women that was at first endearing, then gradually engendered caution and finally outright rejection, like potato salad at a summer picnic.
– Paul Sutcliffe, Pittsburgh, PA

Our tale begins with the encounter of two gentlemen; I’m going to describe the second gentleman first.
– Mark Donnelly, Co. Wicklow, Ireland

For some reason I really got a kick out of that last one.