First Lines

As I mentioned before, I’m teaching this week in Chanhassen Elementary through my work with Compas Arts. (For those of you who work in schools, I can’t say enough good thing about this program. The artists on the roster are some of the most passionate and talented artists that I have ever met, and all are deeply committed to their work as teachers. There is grant money available, and honestly, you could do worse.)

I love this part of my job. I love it a lot

Whenever I start the kids off in their week of working hard writing stories, I have them do a project writing first lines of stories. Stories that do not exist yet. Stories that they would like to read someday. I tell them to write as writers write, which is to say selfishly. Because we are selfish. We follow our own passions, quirks and compulsions. We write to entertain ourselves, and it is ridiculously fun.

I have the kids think about the kinds of stories they like to read. I ask them to think about what hooks them as readers. I read to them a long list of cool first lines, and then I set them to work.

Here is what they wrote:

I was the only one left.

The sun went down, and I knew it was time.

Late one night, Bruce came back from Buffalo Wild Wings and his house was a mess.

There once was a zombie named Trevor.

Close this book and burn it.

I’m not telling you nuthin.

When she went to live on the moon, she swore she would never come back.

School is a prison for me!

We all live in Garbage Town.

She was sitting in a large field where roses bloomed.

Her eyebrows never grew back.

He became the most popular kid in school after that day, and it was all because of one paper airplane and a miniature hamster named Morris.

I told them not to go; of course they didn’t listen.

I woke up and my room was warm. Warmer than usual.

The moment I walked up to the house, the lights went out.

My teacher screamed bloody murder.

When I woke up, the elephant was in my room. And he wasn’t happy.

Yup. I’m pretty sure this week is gonna rule.

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6 thoughts on “First Lines

  1. Absolutely brilliant work by those kids. Man, I so want to read a book that has the first line, “Close this book and burn it.”

  2. I love the things kids say! Is it wrong that some of those first lines made me feel like a hack? ;) And how awesome is “There once was a zombie named Trevor”? Brilliant. Please keep us posted on your class.

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