And Then the Murders Began

Play along by making the second line of any novel "And then the murders began."

Mignon Fogarty
1-minute read

Last week, a fiction writer named Marc Laidlaw started an internet game by tweeting that “The first line of almost any story can be improved by making sure the second line is ‘And then the murders began.” As I write this, the tweet has been retweeted more than 4,000 times.  

According to the website Know Your Meme, Neil Gaiman, who has more than 2.5 million followers, started the hashtag #LaidlawsRule when he tweeted the second line after the first of A Christmas Carol:

Marley was dead: to being with. And then the murders began.

After the Gaiman tweet, the meme took off. First lines that I’ve seen appended over and over again include the following:

Peter Rabbit

Once upon a time, there were four little rabbits, and their names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter. And then the murders began.

The Bible

In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth. And then the murders began.

A Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of times, it was at the worst of times. And then the murders began. 

Nineteen Eighty-Four

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. And then the murders began.

Mrs. Dalloway 

Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. And then the murders began.

I could go on and on. I read so many great tweets. I tried it with my own nonfiction books and it didn’t work so well. For example, the first line of Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing is “We’re all good at something,” which isn’t a great lead-in for “And then the murders began,” but I fixed it with a small edit:

“We’re all good at something,” she said. And then the murders began. 


Give it a try with your favorite books.

I bought one of Mark Laidlaw’s e-books to say thanks for all the fun I’ve had playing with #LaidlawsRule. And a huge thank you to Chris Burdick for first pointing me to Know Your Meme so I could catch up and be culturally literate.

Internet Meme: And then the murders began

About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show.