And Now, the First Line of My Next Writing Project

It is:

“Let’s just get this out of the way,” I said. “One of you idiots is likely to die.”

And that’s all you get until it is done.

64 Comments on “And Now, the First Line of My Next Writing Project”

  1. Disclaimer:

    This opening line may not make it to the final version of the story, either as it is now, or at all. You are hereby warned.

  2. He is off again and here he goes; the first word of Thomas Hardy’s new novel, at 10:35 on this very lovely morning, it’s three letters, it’s the definate article and it’s THE!

  3. That’s exactly what my college creative writing professor said to us right after he said it was a safe bet none of us would ever be published authors.

  4. That would make a great writing prompt for a fiction-writing class if you end up not using it in your next project.

  5. Darn you to heck…

    Now I’m hooked!

    And seconding BW, that’s a great prompt.

  6. A side comment that sometimes the RSS feed for your site (or perhaps the reader I use, Feedly?) will sometimes grab the Big Idea cover picture to go with a post that otherwise has no image. It’s occasionally quite confusing!

  7. Not sure if hopeful or afraid this might be one of the YA novels in that contract.

  8. So when can I order it? Will it be in installments? Who is going to do the narration on the audio version?

    What! Too early yet. :(

    Okay, I will just wait then.

  9. I once woke up with an opening line running through my mind: “Get your head down, lad. We’re about to open fire.”

    I followed it and goty an idea for a two-volume, fat-spine fantasy series. I even wrote a first chapter so I could pitch it to a publisher who was interested in me, but in the end I got a nope. So I pitched something else and got a three-book deal.

    But every now and then, I remember that line and I think, “I really ought to do something with that idea.”

  10. You’re doing a history of the Great Hugo Kerfuffle? Well, at least let’s hope this takes place on a dark and stormy night…

  11. Amusing myself by imagining inappropriate narrators here.

    Jesus to the Apostles
    Surgeon to conjoined twins
    Jim Lehrer to presidential candidates…

  12. I LOVE when books start out with cocky, obviously quite intelligent people who are mean to stupid people.
    (I do. I’m a horrible person.)

  13. Ok, technically all of us idiots are going to die…oh, you meant like, really soon?

  14. I’m thinking a rewrite/update of Dostoevsky’s THE IDIOT with a larger cast (and apparently a special guest appearance by Raskolnikov).

  15. “Let’s just get this out of the way,” I said. “One of you idiots is likely to die.”

    Only one?

  16. That would be an awesome start to the next ‘The Android’s Dream’ novel.

  17. If you don’t use it then Idiots Likely to Die needs to go on the list for the name of your next band.

  18. John, for some reason I hear that line in my inner Shell Scott voice.
    For those of you who don’t know Shell… well now. :-O There ain’t many detectives who swing into crime scenes on a wrecking ball, get chased naked through a casino by a jealous, scimitar wielding boyfriend, land a hot air balloon naked, or disguise themselves as a prop on a movie set.

  19. Come on, you should do a Naked Came the Manatee exercise with this…

  20. If you really wanted to screw with us, Scalzi, you’d preview the second line of the work & have a contest to figure out the first line…

  21. Dear John,

    Frankly, it sounds more like your opening for the comments thread when you’ve written one of your more controversy-making columns.

    pax / Ctein

  22. I’m writing on a fantasy novel called “Flight of Fancy” and the opening line is:

    I started packing at 7:35pm on a Wednesday night in June.

    It’s about a maths geek who’s sucked into a fantasy world and discovers she is, among other things, not entirely human.

  23. It’s a little-known fact that the identical opening sentence appeared in the first draft of Eat, Pray, Love.

  24. This modern practice of giving away the entire plot in the trailer has to stop. :)

  25. I considered telling him that most of us already had, but decided to be gracious about it.

  26. That . . . sounds like Chris Shane’s voice. Maybe. (Or maybe it’s just that I really, really want that sequel!)

  27. Love it how that line establishes character, tone, and setting: This must play out in a world where immortality has been achieved and is commonly available, or else both idiots would certainly die. Eventually.

    So: Are you doing a sequel to In Time?

  28. Wait, I get it – that’s the whole thing, right? Like one of Ginsberg’s American Sentences. Sci-fi haiku. Far out, man. Like, waaaaaay far out.

  29. “Wait, shouldn’t it be One of you idiots are likely to die?”



    Join us next week for another episode of the grammar vigilante…

  30. I gave that speech every year. The reaction was always the same: blank stares, looks of vague concern, and a few bordering on tears. Then, inevitably, one of them burst into audible, choking sobs. The rest soon followed.
    It’s a tough thing to hear, but comforting lies (even of omission) do no favors. Playtime was over. These poor souls were in kindergarten now.

  31. I love this line and it must stay: if not in this novel, than in another.

    This leads us to another fun game I’m surprised nobody’s tried yet: WHICH BOOK IS THIS FOR? A world we know, or a world we do not? (Sure sounds like the CDF….)

  32. Sounds like something Jane Sagan-Perry might say.

    But I’d really just like a short story where Zoe and Gretchen meet up after several years. Maybe Hickory and Dickory get in Gretchen’s way as she rushes to hug Zoe, and she says, “…

  33. Next Scalzi Writing Project : Blogging to his readers …

    The Mallet of Loving Correction hath gotten a little weighty ….

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