Tuning Up: Writing Voice and Opening Lines

Ahem. La la la la la la la. Pardon. Just finding my voice there —

Good interview with Stephen King in The Atlantic about the importance of opening lines and having a unique voice. What is a writer’s voice? According to King, voice is more than style. It is what readers look for, above and beyond genre.

“A novel’s voice is something like a singer’s — think of singers like Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan, who have no musical training but are instantly recognizable. When people pick up a Rolling Stones record, it’s because they want access to that distinctive quality. They know that voice, they love that voice, and something in them connects profoundly with it.”

King also talks about how the opening sentence clues us into a writer’s style, while taking us right into the action and (hopefully) simultaneously luring us into the story.

King’s favorite opening line?

It’s from Douglas Fairbairn’s novel, Shoot–“This is what happened.”

His own favorite first line?

It’s from Needful Things–“You’ve been here before.”


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