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General Discussions > Best opening line of a novel

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message 1: by Travis, Moderator (last edited Apr 21, 2013 11:06AM) (new)

Travis Luedke (twluedke) | 450 comments Mod
I love opening lines that instantly dump you into the story, there's no looking back.

Here's one of my favorite openers, because it embodies the theme of the entire series:

"The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed." ~ The Gunslinger-Dark Tower Series by Stephen King

What's your favorite opening lines, and from what book?


message 2: by Brian (new)

Brian McKinley | 151 comments That is one of the truly memorable ones, Travis!

You know, I'm trying to find a good first line to quote back from some of my favorite books and I'm not finding one. Me, I'm a big believer in starting with a memorable or interesting opening line, but a lot of the great books don't seem to bother.


message 3: by Travis, Moderator (new)

Travis Luedke (twluedke) | 450 comments Mod
I always try for an enticing opener in my own work. And whenever I read an opening line, I look for that hook. It feels disappointing if there isn't one.

I guess I am a product of the entertainment industry. I want to be entertained now, immediately.


message 4: by M.G. (new)

M.G. King (mgking) This would be a great general thread -- I love opening lines! But couldn't find one that was specifically urban fantasy.


message 5: by Travis, Moderator (new)

Travis Luedke (twluedke) | 450 comments Mod
It is now a General discussion!

So lets hear it! What is the best opening line of a novel?


message 6: by Dean (new)

Dean MacAllister (deanmacallister) Does it just have to be one sentence?
"Awake. Disorientated, Tagden sits up in his seat blinking and looks around, trying to let his surroundings sink in. His heart sinks. He's on a plane again."


message 7: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline Bonner | 7 comments There are always the classics, but more recently, I really liked the opening for Feed by Mira Grant.

"Our story opens where countless stories have ended in the last twenty-six years: with an idiot - in this case, my brother Shaun - deciding it would be a good idea to go out and poke a zombie with a stick to see what happens."


message 8: by Pete (new)

Pete Morin | 24 comments "Pancakes."

Hannah's Voice, by Robb Grindstaff.


message 9: by Mandana (new)

Mandana (MANDANATOWHIDY) | 21 comments the best opening line of a novel hands down is from fear and loathing...

enough said.


message 10: by Mandana (new)

Mandana (MANDANATOWHIDY) | 21 comments actually, i think that's probably one of the hardest things about writing a book...starting it with THAT GREAT FIRST LINE. i've had the entirety of my new book mapped out and ready to roll...but, until a week ago, i didn't have a line. and then it came to me like angels singing from the clouds and i felt so relieved that i could start actually writing the story.

\m/


message 11: by Travis, Moderator (new)

Travis Luedke (twluedke) | 450 comments Mod
It was a pleasure to burn. —Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury


message 12: by Brian (new)

Brian McKinley | 151 comments Travis wrote: "It was a pleasure to burn. —Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury"


That is a great one!


message 13: by Travis, Moderator (new)

Travis Luedke (twluedke) | 450 comments Mod
"To be born again," sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, "first you have to die." —Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses (1988)


message 14: by Sarah A. (new)

Sarah A. Kaider (KaiderTheBookRaider) | 5 comments "It was a bright cold day in April and the clock was striking thirteen" ~George Orwell, "1984"


message 15: by M.G. (last edited Apr 24, 2013 07:34PM) (new)

M.G. King (mgking) Travis, thanks for moving the thread!

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice." Gabriel Garcia Marquez in One Hundred Years of Solitude


message 16: by M.G. (new)

M.G. King (mgking) One more --

"It was a dark and stormy night." Madeleine L'Engle in A Wrinkle in Time.

It was already a groaner of a cliche opening in 1962 -- I can see her winking at her readers as she wrote it. And she got away with the cliche, as well as that year's Newbery Medal.


message 17: by James (new)

James Amoateng (goodreadscomjamesamoateng) | 20 comments Check Tale of two cities-Charles Dickens,opening line.


message 18: by Judith (new)

Judith Balafre (goodreadscomjudithbalafre) | 13 comments "I have never begun a novel with more misgiving." Somerset Maugham, The Razor's Edge


message 19: by Kate (new)

Kate Vane (katevane) From The Quarry by Damon Galgut:

"Then he came out of the grass at the side of the road and stood without moving."

Genius - throws you straight into the action and leaves you desperate to know what happened before. I'm still reading it so I don't know yet!


message 20: by Riley (new)

Riley Banks (RileyBanks) | 51 comments I love the opening line from Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind:

"Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were."

As for my own writing, I've never really focused on the first line before. For me, it's making sure the opening chapters grab you, but perhaps, I really do need to start honing that opening sentence.


message 21: by Riley (new)

Riley Banks (RileyBanks) | 51 comments Found this website too, which lists the opening and closing lines of novels. http://firstlinelastline.blogspot.com.au


message 22: by Travis, Moderator (new)

Travis Luedke (twluedke) | 450 comments Mod
“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic vermin.” — Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka


message 23: by Travis, Moderator (new)

Travis Luedke (twluedke) | 450 comments Mod
“Midway in our life’s journey, I went astray from the straight road and woke to find myself alone in a dark wood.” — Inferno – Dante


message 24: by Emma (new)

Emma Clay | 1 comments And so it began on that hot summer day she was drenched in sweat which was salty as it fell upon her lips about the same time she bit into the sweet apple she had just picked from the tree.


message 25: by Travis, Moderator (new)

Travis Luedke (twluedke) | 450 comments Mod
“We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold.” ― Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas


message 26: by Riley (new)

Riley Banks (RileyBanks) | 51 comments Belly wrote: ""I opened my eyes to see the rat taking a piss in my coffee mug."

Crooked Little Vein, Warren Ellis"


Never heard of the book or the author but that opening line would definitely entice me to read it!


message 27: by D.H. (last edited Apr 29, 2013 06:34PM) (new)

D.H. Nevins (dhnevins) | 81 comments I can't believe no one's listed this classic yet. I'm excited to be the first!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. — A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens.

Edit - Oh wait... James got that one. Drat!!


message 28: by M.G. (new)

M.G. King (mgking) "My sixteenth transatlantic crossing under full sail was fairly uneventful, with the exception of glancing off a basking whale about six hundred miles to the east of Bermuda." The Incredible Voyage, Tristan Jones.


message 29: by Riley (new)

Riley Banks (RileyBanks) | 51 comments I was also tempted to do Dickens.


message 30: by Ipsit (new)

Ipsit (ipsit_13) “Lolita. Light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.”
- Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov


message 31: by M.G. (new)

M.G. King (mgking) Another from kid-lit: ""There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it." From the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis.


message 32: by Riley (new)

Riley Banks (RileyBanks) | 51 comments MG now you're quoting the master. CS Lewis is definitely one of my favorite authors. I immersed myself in his world as a child. I'm sure I owe him my imagination!


message 33: by M.G. (new)

M.G. King (mgking) Riley wrote: "MG now you're quoting the master. CS Lewis is definitely one of my favorite authors. I immersed myself in his world as a child. I'm sure I owe him my imagination!"

Lewis is one of my favs, too.


message 34: by Christopher, Founder (new)

Christopher Shields (wealdfaejournals) | 171 comments Mod
"This is what happened."--The Mist, Stephen King.


message 35: by Christopher, Founder (new)

Christopher Shields (wealdfaejournals) | 171 comments Mod
"I see..." said the vampire thoughtfully, and slowly he walked across the room towards the window.--Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice.


message 36: by J. (new)

J. Butler (JStevenButler) | 7 comments "All this happened, more or less."--- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five


message 37: by Bruce (new)

Bruce Henricksen (brucehenricksen) | 12 comments "Joel Campbell, eleven years old at the time, began his descent toward murder with a bus ride."--What Came Before He Shot Her, Elizabeth George.

I like how the title and first line shift the suspense forward from the climax.


message 38: by Travis, Moderator (last edited May 04, 2013 08:34AM) (new)

Travis Luedke (twluedke) | 450 comments Mod
OK, I am going to get spammy on this one:

"They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but what the hell do they know?" ~ The Nightlife Las Vegas, Travis Luedke.


message 39: by C.P. (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) Bruce wrote: ""Joel Campbell, eleven years old at the time, began his descent toward murder with a bus ride."--What Came Before He Shot Her, Elizabeth George."

One of my absolute favorite opening lines ... although I didn't think the novel lived up to the line. Did you?


message 40: by Riley (last edited May 05, 2013 05:54AM) (new)

Riley Banks (RileyBanks) | 51 comments Travis - if the shoe fits, wear it. I've always aimed for a killer opening chapter but have never really focused on the opening line. Will definitely have to do so following this discussion.

(edited to change my stupid spelling mistake!!!)


message 41: by Brian (new)

Brian McKinley | 151 comments "Caroline and I were on the run." - Ancient Blood by Brian Patrick McKinley

Well, if Travis can do it... ;)


message 42: by Travis, Moderator (last edited May 05, 2013 11:01AM) (new)

Travis Luedke (twluedke) | 450 comments Mod
"He was one hundred and seventy days dying and not yet dead." ~ The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester.

(I skipped the prologue and went for the first line of chapter one)


message 43: by Lisa (new)

Lisa "I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974. . . "
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides


message 44: by Rags (new)

Rags Daniels (ragsdaniels) | 5 comments Lallapaloosa
Squat and peeling, its one time grandeur a sun faded memory, the Hotel Sucre sat like a knackered whore on a busy street corner in downtown La Paz.


message 45: by Riley (new)

Riley Banks (RileyBanks) | 51 comments "...sat like a knackered whore...." Love it!!!


message 46: by Travis, Moderator (new)

Travis Luedke (twluedke) | 450 comments Mod
Rags wrote: "Lallapaloosa
Squat and peeling, its one time grandeur a sun faded memory, the Hotel Sucre sat like a knackered whore on a busy street corner in downtown La Paz."


You do have a way with words Ragsy.

Lovely.


message 47: by Jonathon (new)

Jonathon Dyer | 25 comments Travis wrote: ""He was one hundred and seventy days dying and not yet dead." ~ The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester.

Bester doesn't get enough attention these days. Certainly one of my favourites from the Golden Age.


message 48: by Travis, Moderator (new)

Travis Luedke (twluedke) | 450 comments Mod
Jonathon wrote: "Travis wrote: ""He was one hundred and seventy days dying and not yet dead." ~ The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester.

Bester doesn't get enough attention these days. Certainly one of my favour..."


I would say its debatable that the Stars My Destination is one of the best sci-fi ever written. At least it is in my book.


message 49: by Spanglemaker9 (new)

Spanglemaker9 | 1 comments “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen

It sets up not only the central plot, but also sets the authorial tone, witty and wryly observant.


message 50: by Riley (new)

Riley Banks (RileyBanks) | 51 comments You know, I've never read Pride and Prejudice, and until recently, had not even seen the movie!

It is on my Kindle list of books to read though.


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