The Important First Line

By July 20, 2015Writing

You’ve heard it before: the first line of a book is the one that hooks the reader. Makes them want to know more about the plot, your character, your entire novel. Is your first line an interesting one or does it start by describing the weather? (*Side note: The first line from Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s Paul Clifford–“It was a dark and stormy night”–has been described by Writer’s Digest as “the literary posterchild for bad story starters.” On the other hand, the American Book Review ranked it as #22 on its “Best First Lines from Novels” list.)

Now rework that first line until it sings. It should represent the tone of the novel, be vivid, be surprising, draw in the reader; it should be clear, it should encompass the entire scope of the novel; it can even turn out to be, perhaps, oft quoted.

So let’s get some inspiration going! Share some of your most beloved first lines from novels (or heck, even from non-fiction; double-heck, even from your own novel!). Okay, fine, I’ll start with one of my all-time favs:

“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.”

Any guesses? Come on, it’s an easy one, especially with that darn Google thing. For a challenge, don’t do a search :)

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