Go ahead and post your favorite opening lines or paragraphs in the comment section.  And those of you who are adding your OWN opening paragraph — for a chance to win a signed copy of my new UK paperback — the rules are as follows:  Make it short and sweet and I’ll simply chose the one I like best.  The contest ends next Wednesday at 11:59 pm pacific time.

Good luck!

23 thoughts on “Videorati

  1. Guyot

    God, this scared the crap out of me at six in the morning… then I realized it was you.

    Some of my favs (though, I have dozens):

    He loved to watch fat women dance. — Jan Burke, GOODNIGHT, IRENE.

    Calderon figured that, on this night, he had to be the only chauffeur at Los Angeles international Airport who was picking up a dying boy. — Phil Hawley, STIGMA.

    By the time Jerry Pankow was ready for breakfast, he’d already been to three bars and a whorehouse. — Lawrence Block, SMALL TOWN.

    I poisoned your drink. — Duane Swierczynski, THE BLONDE.

    A perfect morning in a city of perfect mornings, an artist would have worked, a God would have rested. — T. Jefferson Parker, LAGUNA HEAT.

    The shot was an explosion that spewed a shower of bright sparks from the pistol’s muzzle into the darkness and kicked the barrel upward, but the arm of the shooter quickly straightened to level it again. The shooter fired the second and third shots into the lighted interior of the car, and the late-night silence returned. After a few seconds, crickets began to chirp tentatively again from nearby yards. — Thomas Perry, DEAD AIM.

    Bill Barringer snapped the guard’s neck as if it were a piece of rotten firewood. — Harry Hunsicker, THE NEXT TIME YOU DIE.

    City vultures never have to leave the ground. — Andrew Vachss, HARD CANDY.

    And my entry for the signed nude photo of Brett Battles:

    First, they shot him in the face. — Paul Guyot, LOGAN’S RUN.

  2. Rae

    One of my all time favorites…..

    “I was arrested in Eno’s diner. At twelve o’clock. I was eating eggs and drinking coffee. A late breakfast, not lunch. I was wet and tired after a long walk in heavy rain. All the way from the highway to the edge of town.”

    Lee Child, “Killing Floor”

  3. Greg B.H.

    The last sound Tessa heard was the flat low rumble of her lover’s stroked ’62 Harley panhead. When the chopper came to a halt in front of her trailer, a brief spark of hope flickered through her oxygen starved brain, then died. Tessa’s death followed.

    From my noir novel “Stalking The Widowmaker”

  4. Kathleen G.

    “IT’S NOT EVERY day you see a dead man running.

    Her vision narrowed in on his face, the sounds of gunfire receding—her quarry, her mission forgotten. Her sweat was cold in contrast to the battle-heated blood pumping through her veins. In the span of four head-pounding heartbeats, her reality shifted, collapsing like a house of cards. She didn’t see the gun pointed in her direction.”

    From my romantic suspense House Of Cards.

  5. Mark Terry

    The new guy said, “Do you trust any of these people?”

    Agent Dale Hutchins stood in front of his locker, adjusted his flak jacket and took a moment to consider the question. He had worked here for five years, at first directly with Pakistan’s National Police Bureau and now in the FBI’s own headquarters.

    “Some of them,” he finally said. Hutchins checked his SIG-Sauer P220 for the fifth time, and slipped it into his tactical holster.–From my latest Derek Stillwater manuscript, The Valley of Shadows

    and from a work-in-progress: China Fire

    The traitor ran and Monaco Grace went after him. He let go of the little girl and sprinted down Jalan Petaling, dodging around shoppers in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown. He hit a table, flipping it and its multi-colored umbrella with a crash. A couple shoppers screamed. The vendor yelled at him.

    And my all-time favorite, from Victor Gischler’s “Gun Monkeys”

    I turned the Chrysler onto the Florida Turnpike with Rollo Kramer’s headless body in the trunk, and all the time I’m thinking I should’ve put some plastic down. I knew the heap was a rental, but I didn’t like leaving anything behind for the inevitable forensics safari. That meant I’d have to strip all the carpeting in the trunk, douche out the blood with Clorox, and hope Avis took a long time to notice. I should’ve just taken a second and put some plastic down. Shit.

  6. Stacey Cochran

    Here’s one I just punched out over my first cup of coffee.

    We got a story to tell, they tell me from the front window of the pickup. It’s some beat-up number, maybe a Ford, and the front left fender has been painted with primer while the rest of the body looks like it’s been painted with rust.

    These boys’ll do you no good, my mind screams silently. Stay the hell away from ‘em. And whatever you do, by God whatever you do, don’t get onboard. It’ll be your end.

    So, I walk over to the truck and peer in through the window, and I can smell the drugs on the oily acrid sweat of their skin — can see it in the electric intensity of their eyes. The one in the passenger seat stares forward like he’s got some place he’d rather be, but the driver, he’s got a grin that spells pain and trouble and sorrow like his wife done left him and is down the road in a trailer with a guy he’d like to kill.

    “Where you boys headed?” I ask.

    “We got some business down in Holly Springs,” the driver says.

    I consider asking him what kind of business, but don’t. Instead, I choose five words that’ll change my life forever: “Can I get a lift?”

    The one in the driver’s seat says, “Hop in the back.”

    And as I climb up over the tailgate, I feel my .357 digging into my back, tucked into the waistband of my jeans.

    Let’s ride.

  7. Karen Olson

    From my upcoming DEAD OF THE DAY:

    For a dead guy, Warren Black had a lot to say. I held the phone away from my ear a little bit; he was shouting about how we got it wrong.

    No shit.

  8. Jacky B.

    I thought R.G.B. was pretty clear. Man said opening PARAGRAPH. Said, SHORT & SWEET!

    One dude has a chapter!

    Maybe I should go have my coffee.

    Jacky B.

  9. Louise Ure

    Geez, Rob, shame us all with a professionally done YouTube video blog, why don’t you?

    From my January ’08 book, The Fault Tree:

    “At the end, there was so much blame to spread around that we could all have taken a few shovelfuls home and rolled around in it like pigs in stink. But that’s not the way it goes with most of us. Most of us like to think that blame belongs on somebody else’s doorstep. And I’m no different.

    I can picture the way it was on the day everything went bad, just as clearly as if I still had my sight. Of course, I probably made up most of it. You know how it goes: your mouth fills in the details your mind doesn’t catch. And then later, when you’re looking back over everything that happened, your memory just smoothes out some of the corners, takes away that metal taste of fear, makes you seem a little braver than you really were, and then paints in a rosy-toned sunset.

    You’re always the hero of your own story. Even if that’s not the way it happened at all.”

  10. Rob Gregory Browne

    It’s good to know that I scared the crap out of Guyot. That’s always fun.

    But that’s probably because the original version started playing immediately, without warning, then repeated when you jumped over to the comment section.

    So it was YouTube, here I come. The resolution isn’t as good on YouTube, but hey, it’s free… 🙂

  11. Camille Minichino

    What a great idea this is!

    One of my favorites is from Midwives by Chris Bohjalian:

    Throughout the long summer before my mother’s trial began, and then during those crisp days in the fall when her life was paraded publicly before the county — her character lynched, her wisdom impugned — I overheard much more than my parents realized, and I understood more than they would have liked.

  12. Naomi

    It was a bit scary to hear you this morning–but a good scary, Rob.

    I’ve already had my coffee and I’m still not quite awake enough to contribute anything. But just chiming in to say that I really enjoyed the videoblog. It was a nice change of pace. You should do more in the future!

  13. Amy Andrews

    From my WIP

    Not even the cold metal of my gun ground into his forehead could remove the vacuous grin from his face. He obviously thought I was joking. That his wealth would save his hide.It just went to show that a fistful of dollars didn’t make up for a shitload of dumb.It felt good to pull the trigger.

  14. Nikki

    It was a wet, gray morning and I was screwed. Evelyn Bright was supposed to be sleeping, curled up tight beneath a cheap bedspread in a motel room. Only she wasn’t there. Her blue Chevy wasn’t in the parking lot and the desk clerk hadn’t seen her leave.

    Frank was gonna be pissed. We’d made a deal, if we stopped for the night, I would get up extra early and stake out her room. If she left before Frank made it to the motel, I would call him and follow her. So much for that.

    I left the motel’s parking lot, swung the car out onto the highway just as a eighteen wheeler rumbled past blaring its horn. I tightened my grip on the steering wheel and dialed Frank’s number with my other hand. He answered. I explained. He growled his annoyance.

    “We should have gotten her last night.”

    -from a work-in-progress

  15. Jacky B.

    When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.

    From James Crumley’s “The Last Good Kiss”

    The following is from my short, “Cuban Queen”

    Esmeralda was a queen. Of course, she hadn’t always been. Certainly not on the island. Not in the cane fields. Not when, at the tender age of fourteen, she stood sweating, shoulder to shoulder, with her brothers, swinging her machete, hacking at the ever resistant stalks.

    Tireless and strong, the muscles of her arms already as hard and ropey as those of the men she labored with, Esmeralda probably would have given up the best years of her life battling the steel-like stalks of sugar-cane. One errant blow from a co-workers machete changed her destiny and sent her on a perilous journey, across 90 miles of treacherous ocean, to Miami.

    When Marco Napoles saw what remained of his daughters’ hand, thanks to God her thumb hadn’t been lost, he was devastated. She had been the perfect jewel of his life, now; her pinkie and ring fingers lay in the mud and the blood, food for insects. Well, she still had three functioning fingers on her right hand, and an undamaged left hand. Marco meant for them to stay that way.

  16. Rob Gregory Browne

    Some good stuff here, but one of you already has the edge…

    Mind you, I’m not suggesting that one opening is better than another. I’m merely choosing MY personal favorite — and that could change before next Wednesday.

    So keep them coming.

  17. Daniel Hatadi

    Great use of tech, Robert. Short and sweet and well produced. This is the kind of thing we need to see lots more authors doing. I’ve uploaded it to Crimespace because I’m a geek that way.

  18. Richard Cooper

    From my WIP:

    Cold blue steel actually does feel cold when it’s pressed against the nape of your neck by a crack smoking, shotgun toting, wife beating 300 pound professional wrestler named Squeaky Lincoln. He must have been hiding in the dark trees as I approached his house on foot. “I’m going to blow off your red-headed woodpecker head, Mr. Smarty Policeman, so don’t you move, okay?” He sounded like Mike Tyson on helium, extra squeaky. I was trying hard to think of a smarty policeman thing to do when the porch light came on and the front door opened and a woman screamed.

  19. Rob Gregory Browne

    Mark, I was actually going to use Gishler’s Gun Monkeys opening in the video, but I’ve misplaced my copy and couldn’t find it on time. I first read that opening a few months ago, at a pre-book festival party in LA. It took me less than a paragraph to decide to buy the book. I also met Victor that night. In fact, a bunch of us went to dinner and had fifty buck steaks. A night my wallet won’t soon forget.

    Daniel, thanks for posting over at Crimespace. I should’ve thought of it myself.

  20. gregory huffstutter

    From my WIP:

    Five minutes before her C3 vertebrae snapped –- bone shards pulverizing her spinal column –- Theresa Partridge stumbled against the cockpit door.“What the hell was that?” To her, it sounded like someone chucked a sneaker down an air shaft.“Turbulence.”Pilots always said turbulence when they didn’t know what was wrong.


    My favorite opening is from Gregory McDonald’s ‘Fletch.’ It seems long, because it’s entirely in dialogue, but only clocks in at 101 words.

    “Fletch.”“What’s your full name?”“Fletcher.”“What’s your first name?”“Irwin.”“What?”“Irwin. Irwin Fletcher. People call me Fletch.”“Irwin Fletcher, I have a proposition to make to you. I will give you a thousand dollars for just listening to it. If you decide to reject the proposition, you take the thousand dollars, go away, and never tell anyone we talked. Fair enough?”“Is it criminal? I mean, what you want me to do?”“Of course.”“Fair enough. For a thousand bucks I can listen. What do you want me to do?”“I want you to murder me.”


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