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Opening Lines: The Dragon-Keeper’s Handbook, Shawn MacKenzie

For some weeks now, I have been thinking about the importance of opening lines to anything we write. I admit readily that if a book doesn’t draw me in almost immediately, I don’t tend to read on. My favourite opening lines of all time are from Pride & Prejudice: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice (1813).

These words make me tingle, no matter how many times I read them. They reach the imagination on many levels at once.

Many of you who follow my blog are writers and poets. I decided; therefore, to make a feature of opening lines. And if you love to read, please tell us if, having read the openers I shall post, if you would be tempted to read on.

I had discussed the idea with Shawn MacKenzie who then gave us a great Editor’s Corner on Opening Lines. I am now going to take this opportunity to introduce the Opening Lines of one of Shawn’s books about dragons. I will feature her other book on dragons soon, as October is dragon month and Shawn is doing a month-long feature on the ancient ones on her blog. Read about them HERE.

Here then are the opening lines from The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook: By Shawn MacKenzie… dragon heeper

“Thank the gods there are Dragons or we‘d surely have to invent them. And what a tall order that would be, to fashion out of whole cloth such fiercely splendid creatures! Such wild guardians and sage counselors, champions of sky, earth, and sea.”

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About Dr Niamh

When I was a little girl (a very, very long time ago), I used to love learning new, really big words like ‘discombobulate’. As I grew, my love of words grew too, until I loved them so much, I could not stop writing them down. One day, as I was scribbling a particular word, a very peculiar thing happened. The word shouted at me, “Stop! Don’t put me there!” As you can imagine, I was shocked and nearly fell off my chair. When I recovered somewhat, I said to the word, “Could you stop shouting, please? I am not used to it.” Can you guess what happened next? No! I thought not. The word said, “I might be small, but I will misbehave if you do not use me properly. I will not tell the story you would like me to tell. I will say something entirely different!” I dropped my pen. I hoped that by dropping my pen, the word would stop talking. Alas! It did not. It carried on chitterchobbling, even after the ink had dried. I was in a pickle. I could not allow my words to run away with my story, now could I? I don’t know about you, but when this sort of thing happens, there is only one thing left to do if you prefer not to spend your time arguing. “Very well,” said I. “I will do as you ask if you will just be quiet and allow me to concentrate.” Since that day, I have been paying special attention to every word I invite into my stories. After all, a story should say exactly what it means to say and not be led astray. With love from Dr. Niamh, Ph.D in Learning Through The Imagination and Founder of Dr Niamh Children's Books. www.drniamh.co.uk

11 comments on “Opening Lines: The Dragon-Keeper’s Handbook, Shawn MacKenzie

  1. Shawn MacKENZIE
    October 3, 2013

    Thank you, Niamh, and what a welcome – she said humbly – addition to the MotD festivities.

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      October 3, 2013

      It really is my pleasure…such a beautifully woven opener! I will feature the other one during this month also.

      Like

  2. Shawn MacKENZIE
    October 3, 2013

    Reblogged this on MacKENZIE's Dragonsnest and commented:
    Book,, opening lines, and Dragons. Many thanks to Niamh Clune for jumping into MotD and spreading its wings. Just goes to show that Dragons can be anywhere and everywhere.

    Like

  3. Deborah J. Lightfoot
    October 3, 2013

    Lovely opening. The lowercase, plural “gods” and cap-D “Dragons” immediately tell the reader something about the story setting and background. There’s a mythical wildness in those opening lines that I find highly appealing.

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      October 3, 2013

      Yes! Such little details are all-important and really help to set the stage. Thank you,Deborah for your input.

      Like

  4. Patricia Tilton
    October 4, 2013

    It is so important to hook your reader from the start and make them want to read more. I remember even as a journalist, if I didn’t have my “lead” in mind, I couldn’t write the story. Doesn’t change no matter the genre. Sometime I write my story ideas down as a hook sentence.

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      October 4, 2013

      Yes Patricia. I just don’t read on of I am not hooked immediately…not these days anyhow. Thank you for your comments as ever.

      Like

  5. thiskidreviewsbooks
    October 5, 2013

    That’s a great opening! I’m hooked! 😉

    Like

  6. Jamie Dedes
    October 5, 2013

    What a lovely opening, a complete work of art in itself. Compelling. I’m all smiles and quite content having read it.

    Opening lines, opening chapters – first impressions – will the writer get the “job” or not … When they’re evocative, holding true promise, they inspire and provoke us to read. This is true whether a long piece or short, a novel, poem or song, or even a blog post. The great Isreali writer Amos Oz says the first line is the hardest. He writes and rewrites them. Imagine that genious and this tells us exactly how we should work at the task and how important it is.

    Not long ago Paula Kuitenbrouwer, a nature artist in the Netherlands, wrote an opening line that stirred me to read and savor and inspired a work of my own.
    http://musingbymoonlight.com/2013/06/30/on-regretting-its-death-by-drowning/

    The opening line – when it’s as good like one you quote here by Shawn – takes us out of our armchair and places us quite happily in the middle of story.

    A wonderful post. Thank you!

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      October 5, 2013

      I do get tired of the usual, “Tell me all about yourself,” author’s posts. I thought this a much better way of promoting new works by new people, (or established people, like Shawn). I like snippets and tantalising. Thank you Jamie for all your great comments.

      Like

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