Valentines Blog Tour: The Significance of First Lines featuring Amie Louellen

Please join me in welcoming Amie Louellen, author of fun and whimsical contemporary romance as she talks about the significance of first lines!

“The great fish moved silently through the night water, propelled by short sweeps of its crescent tail.”

When anyone says first lines, this immediately comes to mind. This is the first line from Jaws.

Jaws terrified me.

It stunted my growth.

It scarred me for life.

An effective first line sets the tone for the entire book. This line says DANGER.

First lines are no less important to the romance genre. In fact, every word of the romance is crucial. We already know the hero and heroine are going to get together, it’s the journey we’re after. What the author does with the first line tells us what to expect from this journey. Will it have murder? Mystery? Mayhem? (Sorry, couldn’t help myself!) My books are funny—no great fish, no night waters, no danger. My first lines are chosen to set that tone—light hearted, fun, and whimsical.

“Must be a dream, Savanna Morgan thought lazily. And what a remarkable dream he was. ” (from Brodie’s Bride. WARNING—shameless bit of self-promotion ahead… Brodie’s Bride available soon from the Wild Rose Press.) (And yes, I know this is two sentences, but it’s my blog and my book. So hey…whadayagonnado?)

Ahem…that’s not to say all books start off perfectly—if that’s even possible. But I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been deceived by a first line. I’ve also lost count of how many of these I didn’t finish—most probably all of them. A first line that doesn’t set the book’s tone is like false advertising. It cheats the author as well as the reader.

Going back to Jaws. This first line illustrates a wealth of information. There’s the villain—the shark. She’s big, and she has stealth. This is her domain, and no one is safe. And the most clever part? All of this information comes from seventeen words. Consider—“The shark swam through the water.” Has the same basic information. And yet it doesn’t give me goosebumps. (well, okay… it does. But that’s my phobia and has nothing to do with good writing.) When compared to Benchley’s work, it pales in comparison.

Not every first line will be as memorable as “Call me Ishmael.” (from Moby Dick) But its job isn’t necessarily to be quotable. The first line should be captivating. It should pull you into the story and evoke some level of emotion (even crippling fear, as is the case with me and sharks). It should make you ask questions and intrigue you keep reading until you find the answers.

So when I say first lines, what comes to your mind? Leave a comment and get entered into a drawing featuring great prizes (Woooo…). What’s your favorite first line and why?

DISCLAIMER—for those of you who are interested, this is NOT my favorite first line. In fact it gives me the heebie-jeebies. (Did I mention the growth-stunting?) No, my favorite first line is “Kenny Traveler was lazy.” From Lady Be Good by the incomparable Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Or at least that’s my favorite today…)

Here's a sneak peak at Amie Louellen's Brodie's Bride


Waking up next to a beautiful golden-haired stranger isn’t the worst thing that has ever happened to Brodie Harper, but staying in a fake marriage in order to gain a new construction contract could very well be.

Savanna Morgan just wanted a way out of an engagement to a man she didn’t love. Marrying Brodie seemed liked the perfect answer at the time. Less perfect the next morning when she finds herself disowned by her father and flat broke. Now she must make it through the weekend. Monday they can get it all annulled and forget it ever happened.

The real problem may be keeping their hands off each other until then.


“Married,” the official supplied with a happy nod.

For the first time since the blonde had screamed and set off the pounding in his head, Brodie noticed the band that circled the fourth finger of his left hand. Married. Images of a scarlet chapel and gold rings flitted through his mind. Lost in the fog of straight shots of tequila, the whole ordeal seemed liked a dream. But if what the man said was true...

Holy heaven. The last time Brodie had gotten drunk had been the day his grandfather died. Then, he’d only acquired a tattoo, but this time... Married? And to a hooker? A gorgeous hooker. An expensive hooker by the depleted state of his wallet, but a hooker none-the-less.

“Where’s my dress?”

Brodie half-turned as his hooker-bride stumped down the stairs, her naked glory covered by the rumpled satin sheet. One red, high-rise pump was missing.

“I wouldn’t know,” he replied, his headache tripling.

“You took it off. You find it.” She punched him hard in the chest with one red lacquered fingernail.

“You want it. You find it,” he countered.

“That dress was an Armani. And you—”

Brodie leaned away from the blonde and closer to the man behind the counter. “Are you sure we’re married?”

“Quite certain.”

“Married?” she squeaked.

“One hundred percent sure?” Brodie added.

“It was a lovely ceremony.”


Damn, Brodie thought. He was too nice of a guy, but he couldn’t stand the panic he heard in her voice. He faced her and took her left hand in his own, turning them both so she could see their identical rings. “Seems we tied the knot last night, sunshine.”

Amie Louellen loves nothing more than a good book. Except for her family…and maybe homemade tacos…and shoes. But reading and writing are definitely high on the list. When she's not creating quirky characters and happy endings she enjoys going to little league baseball games and boy scout meetings. Born and bred in Mississippi, Amie is a transplanted Southern Belle who now lives in Oklahoma with her deputy husband, their genius son, a spoiled cat, and one very hyper beagle.

She'd love to hear from you. Contact her on her website, blog, or find her on FaceBook.

Don't forget, comment for a chance to win a great prize and don't miss these other great author blogs!

Meet contemporary YA an adult romance author Linda Kage at

Meet contemporary, paranormal, and historical romance author Caroline Clemmons at

Meet historical and paranormal romance writer Lilly Gayle at

Meet erotic western historical author Jennifer Jakes at

Meet author AJ Nuest at

Meet author Lynne Roberts at

Meet paranormal romance author Maeve Greyson at

Meet author Amy Corwin at

Meet contemporary and paranormal romance author Jill James at

Meet romantic suspense author Kat Duncan at


Emma Lai said...

One blog down, many more to visit!

Memorable opening from Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." There's more, but that's what I remember. I like it because it can be used to describe so many situations: giving birth (who wants to experience that pain, but then there's the beautiful baby); weddings (who wants to spend all that money, but then there's the happy marriage); funerals (sad for the loss, but happy memories shared and long-lost family members reunited); etc.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Great post. I'm such a wimp that I couldn't read JAWS or see the movie. BRODIE'S BRIDE sounds intriguing. Like you, I have favorite books depending on my mood at that moment. LOL

Clancy said...

First lines, so important. I loved Jaws, love that line. Saw the movie when I was maybe 12 or 13. It generated my interest in sharks and my desire to be an ichthyologist. I studied sharks steadily until college when I realized I didn't like science so much. So I took up English in stead. Would love to write a memorable first line.

Amy said...

Oh, Caroline, I'm a wimp too. Don't know how I made it through. The funny thing is, Peter Benchley said in these times he would have never written Jaws. We know too much about sharks now and their true behavior. But for me that was enough!

Amy said...

And to Emma--those first lines can really suck you in. I have to really work at it. I tend to write from the situation and then have to be clever after I get the flow of the chapter nailed down.

And Clancy--you are brave beyond my imagination. How funny it is that I say I would have been tall had it not been for Jaws and it inspired your life work. Benchley did something right! He inspired emotion in both of us...just very different emotions! :-)

Lynne Roberts said...

Amy, the emotion Benchley inspired in me is very similiar to yours. Shudder. I love this post!

I'm on my 'lunch break' and I just wanted to thank you in advance for guesting here today!

Jill James said...

Amie, I thought I was the only one warped by Jaws at an early age. I didn't read the book until eons after the movie. I love both.

Lilly Gayle said...

Great post! Loved Jaws, the book and the movie. Jaws was the first non-romance, not required reading by a teacher book I ever read. And I love your first line from Brodie's Bride!

Amy said...

Thanks for having me, Lynne. So far the blog tour has been such a great experience. But oooh, I got some blogs to catch up on!

Thanks, Jill--I refuse to go on a cruise because of Jaws. Too many what ifs...but that's for the next blog. :-)

And Lily...really appreciate it. Brodie is near and dear to my heart!

Sherry Cahill said...

Great post! You chose such great first lines to share. I really like your voice. Your personality really comes through.