Published In The Great North Arrow, May 2020: First Lines - Last Lines

(from the wink to the goodnight kiss)

- jim Young

“I'm always looking for meaningful one-night stands.” - Dudley Moore

I think writing an article is a lot like having a brief relationship with the reader. It’s kind of like a one night stand.

Every article or story starts out with a wink. The title is the writer’s wink. It’s intended to get your attention from across the room. If the writer can’t catch your attention, you’re going to look away and you’re not going to read any further. 

Without a good wink the reader is lost before anything’s even happened. The writer knows he’s competing against all the other writers that are out there.

Then there’s the first line. It’s not enough to catch the reader’s passing attention. After the wink, the writer must pique the reader’s interest. It’s the writer’s pickup line. Now that he has the reader’s attention, the writer wants to keep it at least long enough to make the reader wonder “what’s his story?” and hang around long enough for a dance.

His story is the dance. It’s what the whole evening is about.

Here’s 10 great “pickup” lines if you will, from popular books (in no particular order) that are bound to “pique your interest”. You’ll probably know some of them even if you haven’t read the books.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” 

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

“You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”; but that ain't no matter.” 

- Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.” 

- J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (1951)

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

- Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

“All this happened, more or less.” 

- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)

“He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.”

- Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea (1952)

“You better not never tell nobody but God.”

- Alice Walker, The Color Purple (1982)

“Call me Ishmael.”

- Herman Melville, Moby Dick (1851)

“Marley was dead, to begin with.”

- Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (1843)

“Two households, both alike in dignity,

In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,

From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,

Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.”

- William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (1595)

To be honest, when I write, I think I suck at the winks. I just don’t seem to have the knack to get that “come hither” look I’m after. I wish I had a Cyrano de Bergerac of my own to assist me with my winks.

My pickup lines aren’t that great either. “Hi, my name is jim.” I know that’s a really weak pickup line, but sometimes that’s the best I’ve got. So I cheat and use a wingman.

After the wink but before the pickup line I usually rely on a wingman to help make the introductions. I like to begin my articles with a quote from a well known author. The quote, which should be somewhat relevant to my article, is intended to give a little boost to my pickup line and encourage the reader to hang around a little longer.

And how many people can brag about having Dudley Moore, Bob Dylan, Robert Service or Joni Mitchell stand in as their wingman from time to time?

I think I can stand on my own on the dance floor. I try not to step on my readers toes as I gently lead them through the routine of my article, dancing fast when the music calls for it and slowing down for dramatic effect before whirling the reader away for a dip and a great finish.

When the dance is done, comes the good night kiss - the last line.

At the risk of sounding like a braggart, I think the good night kiss is where I’m strongest. If the reader just knew how good the last line, or the good night kiss was going to be, I think I would have more readers.

So, just as I gave you 10 pickup lines to pique your attention with the writings of other authors, here are 10 of my favourite good night kisses from my own works that I hope will inspire you to go back to check out those winks that accompanied them and take a second chance on that dance you might have missed.

Are you ready? Pucker up!

“As long as each day can be a new and exciting experience filled with roses to smell and butterflies to chase, you need never fear growing old.” 

- The Lost Butterfly

“There’s always tomorrow - until there isn’t and then it really doesn’t matter anymore anyway.”

- Snow Day

“But the tunes that once were played on this old piano by my mother will forever echo in my mind whenever I look upon the names of these three master craftsmen, Morris, Feild & Rogers.”

- Morris.Feild.Rogers and Mom

“My grandfather clock will sound it’s final toll and then remain silent.”

- My Final Hour

“Too bad snowflakes weren’t more like M&Ms.”

- Without Question

“Jeez – if the Christians can’t even work out their own differences and get along any better than that, what hope then, do we have for a united country that is respectful and tolerant of all cultures that make up what should be this great country we call Canada?”

- Should We Allow The Lord's Prayer In Our Schools? 

“And as others take notice of the exposed root – or not, the old dog sets off in search of another root.”

- Dog On A Root

“The media need to quit sensationalizing the news and get back to honest and unbiased reporting that will restore the public’s faith in what they report.”

- When The Media Sensationalizes The News

“And one day, like the mighty trees that once stood proud and tall on this property, I too will be forgotten.”

- Living Among The Dead

“We have no formal treaties with the chick-a-dees but they will be on watch for any further suspicious activity.”

- Chick-A-Dee In The Chimney

- 30 -


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