Best, First Line?

Opening lines. No, I’m not talking about lines like, “Do you come here often?” or “Want some fries with that shake? (I know, I should get out more often.) I’m talking about awesome, amazing, make-you-want-to-read-the-whole-book first lines.

Sometimes, at the library or bookstore, I like to flip books open and read just the first line. Does it grab me? Does it engage me? Is it better than what I’ve written?

Here are first lines from some of my favorite books:

  • At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon – “He left the coffee-scented warmth of the Main Street Grill and stood for a moment under the green awning.”
  • A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers – “The city was silently bloating in the hot sun, rotting like the thousands of bodies that lay where they had fallen in street battles.”
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – “When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.”
  • Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery – (Warning, the first sentence is a paragraph long!) – “Mrs. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladies’ eardrops and traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place; it was reputed to be an intricate, headlong brook in its earlier course through those woods, with dark secrets of pool and cascade; but by the time it reached Lynde’s Hollow it was a quiet, well-conducted little stream, for not even a brook could run past Mrs. Rachel Lynde’s door without due regard for decency and decorum; it probably was conscious that Mrs. Rachel was sitting at her window, keeping a sharp eye on everything that passed, from brooks and children up, and that if she noticed anything odd or out of place she would never rest until she had ferreted out the whys and wherefores thereof.”

The Observer just ran an article claiming to have run down the top ten best opening sentences. Humph. I concede that they are quite good, but who’s to say they’re the best? Click here to see what you think. I do get a kick out of the fact that the author snuck in almost twice his quota of ten.

So what’s your favorite opening line?

7 thoughts on “Best, First Line?

  1. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Maybe it’s cliche, but I love the opening line in the Bible! It says it all. 🙂 A great opening line is also found in Francine River’s Redeeming Love. “Alex Stafford was just like Mama said.”

  2. Mom

    I know I have been greatly impressed by opening lines that make me want to dive right in, but I seldom remember them. “You better not never tell nobody but God” from The Color Purple by Alice Walker and “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it” in The Voyage of the Dawn Trader by C S Lewis are two that I do.
    BTW: Liked Wayne’s comic strip!

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