The Stake Reading Club: On the first line of The Girl in the Road

An interesting way to think about reading a book — and a great writer’s prompt for your own experiment! Read and write on….

The Stake


As first lines go, The Girl in the Road’s is a good one: “The world begins anew, starting now.”

A few random thoughts on these six words:

1. The statement is Meena’s—but my first thought is that this could be the first line of any number of books. Perhaps all books. What is a novel, after all, but the creation of a world? It’s said that fiction must reflect reality, but most writers, I think, know better: language creates its own reality. “Call me Ishmael,” “It is a truth universally acknowledged,” “A screaming comes across the sky,” “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself”—these words call worlds into being, worlds that don’t exist until writers and readers conspire to create them.

2. The notion of world is especially fraught in science fiction, however. Fans frequently speak of “worldbuilding” as a thing distinct from character and plot: “Great story but the worldbuilding could have…

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