Learning from the Masters: Opening Lines


I’ve already done a list of the opening lines from all my favorite books, but now I’m going to do a list of some of my favorite opening lines. (There’s a difference, though some overlap.) I’m also going to avoid the classics, since those lists are already all over the internet already.

Opening lines are so important. They’re the first taste your reader gets of your story. They need to hook, and hook hard.

So here goes. See if you can guess!

1. Before she became the Girl from Nowhere–the One Who Walked In, the First and Last and Only, who lived a thousand years–she was just a little girl in Iowa, named Amy.

2. I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time.

3. Does such a thing as “the fatal flaw,” that showy dark crack running down the middle of a life, exist outside literature?

4. I’m pretty much fucked.

5. On a warm night in early July of that long-evaporated year, the Interestings gathered for the very first time.

6. The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning.

7. It was a dark and stormy night.

8. It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened.

9. My life–my real life–started when a man walked into it, a handsome stranger in a perfectly cut suit, and, yes, I know how that sounds.

10. I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.

11. “I suppose the important thing is to make some sort of difference,” she said.

12. “Dad’s dead,” Wendy says offhandedly, like it’s happened before, like it happens every day.

13. “We should start back,” Gared urged as the woods began to grow dark around them.

Why do I love these? Because every single one makes me want to read more. That’s the job of an opening line, and as a writer, that’s something you’d best keep in mind while you’re crafting yours.

(1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13)

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