Play along by making the second line of any novel "And then the murders began."
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.
The first line of almost any story can be improved by making sure the second line is, "And then the murders began." — Marc Laidlaw (@marc_laidlaw) March 3, 2017
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:
Once upon a time, there were four little rabbits, and their names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter. And then the murders began.
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.
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. And then the murders began.
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.