The First Line

First of all, did you know that there’s a fun project online where they give you the first line and you complete the story? It’s called The First Line Literary Journal. Anyway, I thought about it because I’m taking a Coursera MOOC about Shakespeare and the first assignment is to share something about the first line of one of the plays we’re discussing. Check it out and enter if you like! If nothing else, you can write a fun short story.

The play I’m choosing is Much Ado About Nothing because I haven’t read it yet. Ambitious 19-year-old me tried to read every play one summer but didn’t get around to this one. The first line of the play is:

I learn in this letter

Since I have never read the play, I don’t know what the context is at all. First, I would say that it’s spoken in the present tense, so the speaker is probably reading it aloud to the audience. The letter contains new information to the speaker since he or she is learning from it. It makes me think of holding a piece of parchment in hand, its texture rough but thin, maybe tea-stained or flaking with a wax seal. Who knows? It also makes me think about how important letters once were. Today our emails are so easy to send and they are often filled with tediousness and unimportant details.

What does the line make you think about? If you’ve read the play already, I know I’m a few centuries too late to ask for no spoilers–but no spoilers, please!

And if you want to sign up for this free class with me, there’s still time!


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