A good first line can get you intrigued, or excited. It is designed to draw you in and set the tone for what you are about to read.
It can spark as many imaginations as there are people in the room to hear the words.
At Shore Leave, we wanted to celebrate our debut and do some good at the same time so we decided to write a round-robin short story based on a first line submitted by a fan. All those interested ponied up $2 a line and submitted a form. During our Crazy 8 Press panel at Noon Saturday, people continued to fill out forms as we discussed our plans.
Peter David then read out each line submitted, without attribution, and gauged the audience’s response. We narrowed down the lines until finally; the line atop this column won the support of the fans and the writers.
Once the final line was selected, Peter revealed the name of the winner, who turned out to be fellow author Kevin Dilmore.
As the panel ended, we set up a spare Mac Book in our reserved space and attached an external monitor so fans passing by could watch our progress. While Glenn Hauman and Bob Greenberger fussed with the technical issues, Michael Jan Friedman, batting leadoff, was furiously scribbling notes. Once a document was set up, Mike got to work.
Here’s the thing about our work space. It was narrow. Tiny, even. Set between two brick columns, it was apparently the last public table space near an outlet that was available for use. It felt confining and more than a few passersby cracked about watching us in a cage.
Still, we wrote. Every hour, someone new came to take over; beginning by reading what had been written to date, hearing some thoughts from the writer departing and then trying to write creatively. Bob was second and used scrap paper to jot down names and characteristics as a guide, which others added to as the story unfolded. Aaron Rosenberg was third, and quickly expanded upon what Bob had done, leaving his section with a nice cliffhanger for Peter to take in any of several directions.
Each author had to not only build off of what came before, but add and move the story forward. By Sunday, Aaron and Peter had brought the story in the general vicinity of a conclusion so after his stint Glenn filled Bob in on where things were headed. Bob then divided the final actions into two so he could focus on wrapping up one thread and finally handed things to Mike, who not only led off, but was now batting cleanup.
In the week that followed, we all read the story, Mike, Bob, and Aaron tweaked a few things for consistency, and Glenn created the cover you see. And in a day or so, the story will be for sale in all eReader formats with proceeds going to the CBLDF. We had tremendous fun and hope you enjoy the finished tale. We encourage you to support both us and the Fund by buying a copy.