Ready? Here we go:
Everyone knows the importance of a book's opening lines. Not only must they grab the reader, but they must indicate character, tone, and style.
It's a lot of pressure to lay on the shoulders of just a few words. Earlier this year I spent half a day rewriting the first three paragraphs of Wicked Game, then the rest of the day on the next two pages.
Here are the opening two paragraphs as originally submitted:
Family curses never die, they just get watered down. In Greek mythology, the Curse of the House of Atreus began with a guy making soup du jour out of his own son. But I’ll bet anything that generations later, the Curse only made the Atreus family forget to send each other birthday cards.
The Curse of the House of Griffin, whatever sinister form it may have taken in the Old World, has left me with a knack for the things I hate most: sales and marketing. I wish I had talent for singing or landscaping or alligator wrestling—anything that wouldn’t put me behind a desk in a straitjacket and pantyhose.
And here they are in the rewrite:
Family curses never die, they just mutate. In Greek mythology, the curse of the House of Atreus began with some smart-ass making soup du jour for the gods out of his own son’s meaty bits. Things went downhill from there. These days, though, the curse probably just makes the Atreus family forget to send each other birthday cards.
The curse of the House of Griffin, whatever sinister form it may have taken in the Old World, has left me with a gift for the persuasive arts. In the straight world, this means sales and marketing—or as I like to call it, S&M.
In her line edits, my editor changed the end of the first sentence back to "watered down." I thought "watered down" was an inherently weak image, so I changed it back to "mutate." (In effect, I stetted her stet.) But I wavered over it for a long time, because "watered down" has a slightly better rhythm.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it: find me another word or phrase to end the sentence, "Family curses never die, they just________."
I'll choose two winners: Funniest and Most Appropriate (i.e., the one I'd actually consider using instead of "mutate"). No limit to the number of entries--give me as many choices as you can yank out of your pretty little brains. Winners will be chosen among the commenters on my jerismithready.com blog, my MySpace blog, and my LiveJournal.
Deadline for entries: Wednesday, December 19, noon EST.
Each winner will get an Advance Readers Copy of Wicked Game. On Page One they'll see something so forehead-slappingly painful/hilarious, they'll understand why this sentence is such a big deal.
Now playing: Red Hot Chili Peppers - Stadium Arcadium