Monday, July 26, 2010

5 Amazing Opening Lines

As an avid reader, as well as writer, I sometimes find myself obsessing over the smallest thing. The one thing that is always in the back of my mind if the elusive, hooky, first line. Right now, my book doesn't have an opening line that pops, but I'm hoping I'll have an epiphany as I'm revising.

Anyway, today I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite first lines (in no particular order):

Nineteen Eighty-Four

 It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. -George Orwell, 1984
This makes you think - what? 13? What kind of story is this that the clocks have 13 numbers on them? Now I just HAVE to read the rest to find out abut this world.

The Catcher in the Rye

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. -J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
This line makes me wonder why the person speaking is so emo (before emo was even cool, no less). What happened to him? What's his story?

The Great Gatsby

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since. — F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
This line tells a lot about what you can expect from the story. Whatever it is that his father told him, the character still has some doubts about it. The story will most likely focus on his decision to believe his father, or leave whatever the father told him behind.

Uglies (Uglies Trilogy, Book 1)

The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit. – Scott Westerfeld, Uglies
No insight into the story, but this is such a vivid image. Maybe a reader won't know what cat vomit looks like, but at one point they've probably seen some kind of vomit and have a very clear idea of what the sky in this opening scene looks like.


This line just cracks me up, really. Right off the bat, you know it's going to be witty and entertaining.
There is no lake at Camp Green Lake. - Louis Sachar, Holes

What about your favorite opening lines? Have I left one off that you think is better? Let me know in the comments.

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