Get Hooked On Writing!

Issue # 7 Tuesday, June 23, 1998

This Week's Author:

Shara Rendell-Smock, author Contributing Editor Shara Rendell-Smock has written more than twenty computer software manuals, numerous newspaper articles, including a monthly health column for The Sarasota Herald-Tribune, and a weekly column for the Sideroad - "Go to Health! Because Life's Too Short.

She's the author of two books of non-fiction: Getting Hooked: Fiction's Opening Sentences 1950's- 1990's


Living With Big Cats: The Story of Jungle Larry, Safari Jane, and David Tetzlaff

For ordering information, click here.

To read more about these books visit

Next Week's Author:

Shara Rendell-Smock

Next week Shara continues her showcase of opening lines concerning justice, family, weather, and travel.


The Hook

part I of II

Work. Love. Animals. Money. Family. Justice. The Weather. Travel.

These are the biggies in fiction's opening lines the last 45 years. Common sense tells you that a lot of mysteries open with a line about justice; love statements open romance novels; travel opens westerns. But many of these topics apply across the board, opening science fiction, mystery, romance, western, and mainstream novels. Some openers are shocking, some are humorous, and each hook brings with it a sign of the times, indication of the genre and/or time period it was written in, and perhaps for some of us, vivid, pleasant memories.

This week I present some openers from topics concerning work, love, animals, and money.
Category key: Mystery (M), Science Fiction (SF), Romance (R), Western (W), and Mainstream (Mn).

"My family hated my job." Susan Isaacs, Close Relations, 1980 (R)

"Saturday, the last day of August I started work before dawn. " Patricia Cornwell, All that Remains, 1992 (M)

"He had been on the job only a week but he had got used to sitting in a dead man's chair." Dale Wilmer, Dead Fall, 1954 (M)

"If it had been up to Katie Chave she would have called in sick that morning." Lillian O'Donnell, No Business Being a Cop, 1979 (M)

"For quite a few weeks now, Dan Willis had known he needed to begin a serious search for a job." Frederic Bean, Hard Luck, 1992 (Mn)

"There are various ways of mending a broken heart, but perhaps going to a learned conference is one of the more unusual." Barbara Pym, No Fond Return of Love, 1961 (R)

" It was love at first sight." Joseph Heller, Catch-22, 1955 (Mn)

"Of all the rash and midnight promises made in the name of love, none, Boone now knew was more certain to be broken than 'I'll never leave you.'" Clive Barker, Cabal, 1985 (Mn)

"I never was a virgin." Susan Isaacs, Lily White, 1996 (R)

"Most of the time I stayed clear of towns, preferring my own company and that of some animals to most people, but there are times when I enjoy getting to see some lights and to hear some noises I haven't made myself." Frank Roderus, Sheepherding Man, 1980 (W)

" When Ellen Wainwright was married to Richard Lancy in July, 1873, the day was so hot that the church doors were left wide open, and towards the end of the ceremony, a stray dog ran in and stood howling in the central aisle." Mary E. Pearce, Cast a Long Shadow, 1977 (R)

" At dawn, if it was low tide on the flats, I would awaken to the chatter of gulls." Norman Mailer, Tough Guys Don't Dance, 1984 (Mn)

"It was in that year when the fashion in cruelty demanded not only the crucifixion of peasant children, but a similar fate for their pets, that I first met Lucifer and was transported into Hell; for the Prince of Darkness wished to strike a bargain with me." Michael Moorcock, The War Hound and the World's Pain, 1981 (SF)

"Late in August three crows took up residence in the chimney of the corner house on Hemlock Street." Alice Hoffman, Seventh Heaven, 1990 (Mn)

"The crow with the red eyes sat on a branch in the towering old white oak where the leafy boughs were thickest and stared down at the people gathered for their picnic in the sunny clearing below." Terry Brooks, Witches Brew, 1995 (SF)


"All I had to do to earn some dough was kill a guy. " Bruno Fischer, The Fast Buck, 1952 (M) " They were old hundred-dollar bills, a little limp now, even a little greasy, and one of them had a rip in it that somebody had neatly mended with a strip of Scotch tape. " Ross Thomas, The Porkchoppers, 1972 (M)

"Harrison counted the scant handful of coins twice before he wrote down the amount on a deposit slip and entered the amount also in the passbook. " Frank Roderus, Finding Nevada, 1985 (W)

" I accepted a commission that had been turned down by four other writers, but I hungry at the time." Dick Francis, Longshot, 1990 (M)

" Claire won the lottery on a Wednesday afternoon in May, the same afternoon that Emma graduated from high school, the dog ran away, and the landlord raised the rent." Judith Michael, Pot of Gold, 1993 (R)

Part of the original Sideroad.
Text © 1998, Shara Rendell-Smock.
Editor: Shara Smock.
Production: Erin Grainger.
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Shara's books can be ordered from her web site at