Idea: First lines for Mormon fiction

I like writing first lines for stories. They aren’t ‘real’ first lines, of course. That is, I don’t intend to turn them into stories. They encapsulate, say too much (some of it said in what isn’t said). They tend to be glib and even humorous. Think of them as short-short stories but without the story or with a story that you supply. Or something like that. At any rate — enjoy! And add your own (in the comments section) if reading them causes your own creative juices to stir.

As with all posts in AMV‘s ‘Idea’ series, I throw these out in to the Mormon Zeitgeist for the good of all. If for some crazy reason you want to grab one of these lines and create a work of fiction from it, you are free to do so. And if you do — you should e-mail me about it so I can talk about it here.

First lines for Mormon fiction:

1. Melody was sick of being a ‘sweet spirit.’

2. Elder Thatcher’s companion strongly believed in the ‘baptize ’em all — let the branch president sort ’em out’ school of missionary work.

3. The first thing Charles noticed when he entered the cultural hall was the table heavy-laden with dishes of bubbling funural potatoes, tops crisp and brown with bread crumbs, corn flakes or crushed potato chips, steam curling off them like prayers.

4. The Toole Seventh Ward was the proud owner of the only bishop in the Church who could get away with wearing an earring and full beard (and, yes, the stake president knew about it).

5. It took 12 tries to baptize Lucy, but as with most thing she didn’t complain and instead took it as a sign from on high.

6. Thurston Bingsley was truly a man without guile — unfortunately he didn’t have much of anything else either.

7. They carried her kicking and screaming out of the Church Office Building and dumped her ceremoniously on the sidewalk.

8. Gary had long passed the point of being a ‘danger to society’ and was well on his way to being a full on menace.

9. Bishop Slater took a minute to mull things over but then hastily picked up the phone — this time Sister Evans had gone to far.

10. “Pack up,” said Hyrum to his pregnant wife and six young children. “It’s time for the trek back to Missouri.”

11. Not many people know this, but, done correctly, scrapbooking is a contact sport.

12. So far as he could tell — or as far as a Google search could tell — Jimmy was the first person in the world to crack the secret message hidden among the pages of the July Ensign.

13. “Hey, I like Jello salad,” she said. “And flower print dresses with lace collars. And needlepoint versions of the Salt Lake Temple.”

14. Mahonri Moriancumer Meeks really wanted to accept the position with the FBI, but he really wished they hadn’t made the offer conditional on him changing his name.

15 thoughts on “Idea: First lines for Mormon fiction”

  1. Nice one CW.

    Clark: I think you meant — It was a dark and stormy family home evening night

    AND: Welcome Bookslut readers. Don’t be frightened. Yes there is such a thing as Mormon literature. Yes much of it is really bad — just a step up from the kind of fiction (think romance novels, Left Behind, etc.) you can find in a Christian bookstore.

    But some of it is pretty damn good and pretty damn literary (and getting better). And you may already know this — but we own the speculative fiction genre. I welcome e-mail from those who are curious but shy.

    And, no, this blog isn’t a secret marketing ploy to recruit more members for the LDS Church. [Everybody else in the Bloggernacle — shhhhhh! Just play along.]


    Posted by William Morris

  2. A friend sent me this link. He’s not Mormon, but understood that the intro sentences were supposed to be funny. I’m an ex-Mormon with an abiding interest in Mormonism. I thanked him for the link and told him it would take hours to explain why all of these are so funny.

    Just thought I’d share that thought with you.  

    Posted by ryan

  3. Ryan:

    Thanks for sharing. Many of them do require an explanation for non-Mormons. I wonder how many of those who came over here from Bookslut were somewhat puzzled by them.

    I can confirm that they are *supposed* to be amusing [even if they aren’t].  

    Posted by Anonymous

  4. “They knew the journey would be long, but they were strong. They passed over mountain and desert, through grassland and rivers and lakes. And when they got their they were tired, and they were cold. Lord were they cold, but only on the outside. On the inside they were warmed by the light that had served as a beacon coming from the statue of Moroni and welcoming them, to Palmyra.” 

    Posted by sonny

  5. sonny:

    I like it. At first I was thinking — wow, this is pretty prosaic, but then we get to the Moroni as beacon image.

    Unexpected and nice. Sort of a pillar by day/cloud by night thing.

    It actually looks to me like a good base on which to build a piece of post-apocalyptic Mormon fiction.

    Posted by William Morris

  6. How about a sub-genre? Jack Mormon fiction.

    “She always hid the coffeepot before the Visiting Home teachers arrived.” 

    Posted by C

  7. I’m pleased to see a second round of participation on this post. Thanks — these are quite entertaining.

    I especially like C’s contribution. [although technically it should just be ‘visiting teachers’].


    Posted by William Morris

  8. Thanks.
    Actually this could be more auto-biographical than fictional. Growing up with an Episcopalian father and a lapsed-LDS mother, hiding the coffepot was a monthly occurence during my childhood. Those visits always loomed large for us since it was our main exposure to Mormons, (not counting our raucous, very funny Jack Mormon relatives.) Hence the capitalization, and not quite accurate terminology

    I know most of the cultural stuff and little of the doctrinal. The “respect your LDS heritage and don’t forget your great-grandparents who walked with handcarts to settle Zion,” was drilled into us early and often. (Although piety skipped a generation or two, see above about raucous relatives etc.) After attending a funeral of one my aunts two years ago and _really_ enjoying the luncheon buffet provided by the Relief Society, I finally understood my here-to-fore mysterious fondness for jello salad. Having a heritage that includes polygamous great-grandparents is quite a conversation stopper in my Episcopalian circles.

    Thanks for the memories. I enjoy your blog and links. I love Mormon humour!

    Posted by C

  9. This reminds me of Chris Van Allsburg’s picture book “The Mysteries of Harris Burdick” which includes a tantalizing picture each from several different stories. I hear kids love to draw the rest of the story. Now I’ve just got to figure what else happens to poor Mahonri Moriancumer Meeks. Maybe he changes his name to Gidgiddoni Giddianhi Strong. 

    Posted by Harlow Clark

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