Even before a novel is published, the first lines need to shine. They're an agent's first taste of a writer's style and voice if you go the commercial publishing route. If you choose to self-publish, then it's those lines that will be showcased in the "Look Inside" feature to allow readers to decide if they want to read any further.
It shouldn't take more than a page, and ideally no more than a couple of sentences, to establish the age group and genre a novel is targeted for. To that end, I've pulled the following lines out of my WIP folder. They each come from a different novel. Some are MG, some YA. Some are 1st person, some are 3rd. Some are contemporary and some are fantasy or sci-fi. I've decided to put the first line theory to the test.
Can you tell, from just these opening lines, and without the context of a title or cover image, which of these are MG and which are YA?
- The whole thing began rather simply, as is often the case in bizarre or fantastic circumstances.
- The voices of the dead never truly leave - they become the wind, and roam the barren places of the world seeking solace.
- It's said that the children of Rhin are born with bells in their hair.
- A storm was raging, and for this O'Keefe Sinclair was grateful.
- Some say you can tell when a person died by the color of their soul.
- I suppose it's no one's fault, but I choose to blame the boys.
- Micah was already running when the building exploded.
- It takes 1800 mg of Ketamine to knock out a draft horse.
- The snow came down in a swirl of rain and ash and blood, and in the distance, the Golden City burned.
- "It's like life, only more exciting, with better clothes, and a nicer car.
- No matter you may have heard, it was not Tanner's idea to fly Bobby Steiner's jersey from the flagpole with Bobby still inside it.