Author Marc Laidlaw has discovered the key to writing an exciting book opening. No more writer's block; it turns out all you have to do is use "And then the murders began" as your second sentence. This ingenious system has become a viral social media game, with users adapting the second lines of all their favorite novels — and even Neil Gaiman giving it his seal of approval. And you know what? Marc Laidlaw was right. It really does make the opening ten times better.
Marc Laidlaw is a science fiction writer who's written a number of novels and short stories — although to my knowledge, none of them contain his now-famous second sentence. He never imagined his joke would go so viral, writing on his website that he was only "expecting two or three of [his] friends to laugh" — it just so happened that "Neil Gaiman was one of the two or three."
Once Gaiman got in on the action, naming it #LaidlawsRule and tweeting it out to his two and a half million followers, the whole thing took off — and a week later, I'm still trying it out on the first page of every book I open. Here are some of the most hilarious results.
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
Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. And then the murders began. #LaidlawsRule— Andrew Hicks (@AndrewPatrickH1) March 11, 2017
Mr and Mrs Dursley of 4 Privet Drive were perfectly normal, thank you very much. And then the murders began. https://t.co/xZVmnReUDV— Aoife📚 (@PrettyPPD) March 3, 2017
It even works for The Good Book itself...