Last Days/First Lines

The Last Days, sequel to Peeps, comes out in exactly thirty-one days. So I hereby proclaim this Last Days Month!

We’re kicking off the festivities with a strange literary experiment. Below is a “poem” made from the first lines of every chapter of TLD, in order.

Some chapters have been censored by the Spoiler Control Board, but you still may get flickers of plot, character, and theme. Those with weak spoilage tolerances should look away now!

One explanatory note: The book has five points of view, both male and female, so it’s sort of like Midnighters. Except it’s in first person, like Peeps.

So here we go, and see if you can spot Westerfeldian first-line-of-chapter technique in action!

1. I think New York was leaking.
2. “You know what the weird thing was?”
3. The next day, Zahler and I saw our first black water.
4. The new girl was intense. And kind of hot.
5. “One of those boys was rather fetching.”
6. Pearl was glowing.
7. My dogs were acting paranormal that day, all edgy and anxious.
8. Times Square was buzzing.
9. I took the subway to Brooklyn, so Mom wouldn’t find out from Elvis.
10. Pearl was shiny, glistening, smelling of fear.
11. I got there early, just to watch.
12. Her uncovered face was radiant, shining with a brilliance that liquified me.
13. The halls of Julliard seemed wrong on that first day back to school.
15. It felt weird, waiting for 1AM exactly.
16. Mozzy was taking forever.
17. I’d bought a new dress for this, and nine kinds of makeup.
19. When the doorman heard our names, he didn’t bother to check the list or use his headset.
20. The noise in my body never stopped.

Hmm. That was . . . weird.

One thing is obvious: I like my first lines short and declarative. No complicated sentences, except maybe chapter 19. Of course, that’s not really a Scott thing. It’s pretty classic grab-the-reader technique, though it can look weird when all the first lines in a row like this.

Something more particular to me (and that I didn’t realize until now) is how groups of similar concepts tend to repeat close together:

1-3. “leaking” and “water”
4-5. “hot” and “fetching”
6-12. “glowing,” “shiny,” “radiant.”
7-10. “buzzing,” “edgy,” “intense”
10-13. “smelling of fear,” liquified me,” “seemed wrong”
15-16. “waiting for 1AM,” “taking forever”

That’s kind of cool. And you can sort of see the book progress in those groups, from anticipation (water dripping), to attraction (fetching and shiny), to growing intensity (buzzing), to fear (and wrongness), and then a pause before the storm (waiting, taking forever).

But thanks to the Spoiler Control Board, you didn’t get any lines from the climax of the book, so it’s hard to show what happens next. (Heh, heh.)

Anyway, I hope that makes you salivate at least a little.

“Last Days Month!” I say again.

I started a mini-meme!

E. Lockhart, author of The Boyfriend List and Fly on the Wall, has posted her own first-line poem, using the first lines from her upcoming novel The Boy Book.

I haven’t read it yet (though I loved Fly on the Wall), but the first lines give you an excellent sense of the novel’s voice. Very salivating-making.

31 thoughts on “Last Days/First Lines

  1. I spotted some other similarities, like.


    Quite a poetic masterpiece.


  2. I love how you broke down the chapters like that. Giving us just enough of a peek to make us salvating with anticipation and perhaps…hunger?
    Yes, LDM (Last Days Month) is oficially my favorite holiday. So…like any good holiday…will there be gifts? You know, bribes to make happy little fanners continue to spread forth the gospel of Scott Westerfeld? Those of us who lovingly shout out “It’s WesterFELD not Field!” to any unenlightened soul.

    Am I flattering enough? Can we make it that long?

  3. you know what? this is bad…..i haven’t even read peeps…i should do that before TLD comes out.

  4. *twitch*

    Thirty-one days!? When TLD comes out, I’ll be in school! EEK!

    I noticed the way you used similar words like hot and fetching before you pointed it out. Interesting.

    ‘I think New York was leaking.’

    ^This reminds me of the cat vomit hook. So random, yet very intriguing.

    Last Days Month! Awesome!

  5. that is so awesome!!! i cant wait to read the book, i think i might need a new pair of underwear if i dont get my hands on it soon!!! AHHH!!!

  6. Yay! One month until The Last Days! That is definetly a call for monthlong celebrations.

    Aw. 11 chapters we can’t know anything about. How sad. But I do love the ones we can read. I seriously want to know what chapter 17 is about – “I’d bought a new dress for this, and nine kinds of makeup.” I so want to read! But TLD comes out on my 2nd day back at school. Which means I won’t have time to read it :[

  7. I am so psyched! It turns out that because my sister is a librarian she may be able to get a pre-released copy of TLD, and then give it to me of course!! I love my sister’s career!!

  8. I just got back from BN with nontheless, Specials. I am so exited. I was there for my summer reading list. What a bore when i saw Specials and i thought to myself, it’s mom’s money, so what the hell? And i did. And i’m not in trouble. Woo-Hoo! It’s a party. I’m still on Part 1. I thought i should just let you know someone is reading your book.
    Keep on writing.

  9. also,
    “was” is used quite a bit.

    the books release is so on my cell phone
    with an alarm AND everything.
    so duringsecond period my phone will ring
    and lo and be hold
    your book will appear.

  10. coolio, i went to barnes and noble too, i didnt get any of your stuff though, scott, i already own all of your stuff (except fine prey and polymorph…)

  11. Extremely excited, sir :D!!! Particularly like the line “The noise in my body never stopped.” It seems like a very tangible thing, like vibrations going through you.

  12. Lol Scott, you’ve started a trend!

    And thanks for those excellent first-liners! You shameless marketer, you.

  13. Yo everyone…Scott, I really think that you’re reading too much into this. I mean, the first lines thing, ok, but the repeated themes? Really.
    You must have too much time on your hands. As we say in my family (seven kids ages 2-16, thank God), go clean up your room.
    And I think you’re an amazing author.

  14. Any chance this book will make it stores early like Specials?

    btw… I loved the one-lined goodness

  15. wow! good naming of the chapters. some people dont name chapters and i really dont like it. so thanks for having COOL names! yeah!

  16. Last Days Month! And there wasm uch rejoicing.

    I loved the chapters… although I really want to know what the censored ones are. Or not. The poetyr hting was tres cool. (French in my world intensifies anything)

  17. I’m…hyperventilating, you know, i didn’t think there would be a sequel, i hoped though. I have a vampire obbsesion. Spurred even more when a book came out with the name of the city I live in (a.k.a. west of seattle= nowhere)so any way, I’m gonna tell my friend…and breathe into a paper bag…and possibly through up.

  18. U know what’s funny? you never live in my time zone, where I am, it’s 8:30 on the 9th… I’m bored…

  19. Yes, I am salivating. Scott, WHY did you do that to me? Now I won’t be able to enjoy my last homework-free days. I will be sitting on the couch, staring at the clock, counting off the seconds till TLD comes out.

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