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.
14. CENSORED FOR SPOILAGE!
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.
18. CENSORED FOR SPOILAGE!
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.
21-29. ALL CENSORED FOR SPOILAGE!
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!
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.