Do you have a favorite first line?

A killer sentence that enticed you to keep reading?

You know what I mean. One sentence that draws you to the next like breadcrumbs along a deserted trail. You just have to know what the hell is going on.

I’ve read tons about hooking the reader. Bet you have too. Some authorities insist the hook must be the first paragraph, others first page and still others maintain a writer can take an entire chapter to grab the reader.

But, there is something to be said about a great first line.

Google best or favorite first lines in a book and you’ll get lots of links to hundreds of classics. But what about more current books?

What book have you read recently that had a killer first line?

I’d love to know. Do share!

Here are some of mine.

“They say I died.” Fortier, Anne. Juliet: A Novel 

“Moonlight played tricks with my eyes as we circumvented the graveyard like an obstacle course.” Constantine, Cathrina. Don’t Forget to Breathe 

“When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.” Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games (Hunger Games Trilogy, Book 1)

Do you think the first line is all important? Or do you think a killer first paragraph is more important?

How can we write a first line that grabs?

I’m still working on that myself so I was thrilled to read a great post on how to write the first line.

Check out 3 Ways to a Killer Opening Line by Diane O’Connell.

What did I get from the post by Ms. O’Connell?

  • The first line need not be a long complicated sentence.
  • Use surprise and confusion make the reader question what the heck you’re referring to.
  • A vibrant, enchanting prose can pull the reader into the story.
  • The first line can be used to connect the reader to the thoughts and words of your protagonist.
  • Experiment with first lines. Find a killer line and play with it, change it and get the feel for how the author accomplished the art.

I see another rewrite in my immediate future. Sigh…

What do you think? Does this one work?

“I’m no stranger to police stations, often stopping by to interrogate the front-desk Sergeant.” Cogdell, Jean M

As always, below I’ve added a few links about grabbing the writer.

Happy reading.

Talk to me – I love reading your comments.

Please head over and “like” my Facebook page at Facebook at jeanswriting . Or to connect with me, click the “write me” tab. Don’t forget you can follow me on StumbleUpon,  on Twitter @jeancogdell , and Amazon.com.

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How to start a novel: First sentences, first paragraphs

7 Keys To Write the Perfect First Line of a Novel by Joe Bunting

The 50 Best First Sentences in Fiction

What are your favorite opening lines from a book?

100 Best First Lines from Novels

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23 thoughts on “Do you have a favorite first line?

  1. “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, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I think this is the best opening line of any novel.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” Is from One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amergo Bonasera sat in New York Criminal Court Number 3 and waited for justice; vengeance on the men who had so cruelly hurt his daughter, who had tried to dishonor her.
    The Godfather by Mario Puzo.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t come up with a good opening line yet for my own efforts. I don’t know if the opening line is as important to me as the first page or first few paragraphs. If the tone draws me in, I’m hooked.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m a pretty patient reader. I like layers and depth and novels that make me think — things that have to be built, so they take more than a line or paragraph. A single line, though attractive, can be misleading. A first paragraph potentially provides a nice hook and gives an idea of writing style and ability. Depending on length, a chapter or a few give direction to how the story is unfolding — and I like to know that before making an assessment. Having read literature of the past, not everything hit you as obviously as a two-by-four in the beginning, but the stories lingered long after they were read because of their reflection of humanity and implications for the characters, who could be real people.

    Today, however, you may realistically only have a line or first paragraph — that’s if you’re lucky enough to have a hard copy in a bookstore. The back-of-book blurb is one of the hardest things to write, and that’s what shows up on online book sites in addition to the back of your book, which readers may immediately flip to.

    One of the best first lines and first paragraphs I’ve read is found in Kathy Reichs’ Fatal Voyage (book four, 2001). Truly amazing. Had to come back to it again and again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m a patient reader too. I rarely judge a book on the first line or paragraph. Too bad a lot of readers do. You are so right about the blurb. I admire writers who get the back summary right. You’ve peaked my interest, I’m gonna check out Fatal Voyage. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I like this line from Charles Dickens’, “David Copperfield.” Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.

    Liked by 2 people

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