Can you say it in one line?
If you can’t say it in one line, maybe you don’t yet have a good handle on it.
This week I read Karen Ball’s blog on the importance of first lines in our writing. Karen, a gifted author and literary agent with The Steve Laube Literary Agency, reminded me of the power of a novel’s first line. When Karen puts on her literary agent’s hat and judges whether to accept or reject a new author, she says that those first lines “set the stage for the readers, creating a sense of dread or anticipation, excitement or contemplation. First lines can capture and transport, or convict and challenge. When I start a book and the first line grabs me, I always get a bit of a charge. If the first line is that good, I have great hopes that the rest will be great.”
People Shared Their First Lines
In her blog “First Line Fun,” Karen asked her readers to have some fun with her by sharing the first line of whatever they were working on at the present. She has already gotten a number of really interesting ones. I encourage you to take a look. I got some good ideas from them and learned some helpful lessons. My favorite first line was, “Dr. Kate, do they have Christmas in heaven?” It was written by Phyllis Clark Nichols, author of this year’s popular Christmas novel, The Christmas Portrait. I will admit, I may be a tiny bit biased since Phyllis is my wife.
Robert Southey, English Romance Poet
Karen’s blog stimulated my thoughts not only about the importance of first lines, but also about the value of being able to “condense” our faith and purpose in life into one line. For some reason, Karen’s words took me back to my college English class and that memorable one-liner of Robert Southey, the English romance poet, “It is with words as with sunbeams – the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.”
Companies Pay Millions For One-liners
Each year businesses pay marketing companies millions to condense the essence of who they are and what they do into one-liners. It is a proven fact in advertising and marketing that such powerful, memorable, and succinct one-liners are worth every penny. They help the business stay focused on who they are and what their primary purpose is. They also help the audience get the company’s message in a quick, clear, and engaging way.
If you HAD TO write a one-liner, could you?
If first lines or one-liners are that critical for businesses and authors, are they not even more important for Christians? Maybe we all need to pause and ask ourselves this question, “If I had to condense my primary purpose in life into one line, what would I write?” And when you write it, you will have recorded your personal mission statement.
Here’s mine. What do you think?
My primary purpose in life is to have an intimate, healthy relationship with Jesus and to live so that others would want to know, serve, and enjoy him.
Try it. It’s not as easy as you might think.
I invite you to write and share yours here so others can learn from it. Perhaps writing it will be a challenge, but I can assure you it will help others. Thanks in advance.
Bill Nichols, HealthyFaith.net