Author Topic: Opening lines  (Read 1818 times)  

Online Paranormal Kitty

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Opening lines
« on: May 22, 2018, 03:20:29 PM »
What are your favorite opening lines from any book (your own or someone else's)? What do you think are the qualities in an opening that really grabs a reader's attention?

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Re: Opening lines
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2018, 03:24:02 PM »
"My wound is geography," Pat Conroy, Prince of Tides.

For me, it's the creation of an image that immediately draws me into the world of the book.

Welcome to the worlds outside my window
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Offline P.J. Post

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Re: Opening lines
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2018, 03:30:18 PM »
The man in Black fled across the Desert, and the Gunslinger followed.

The Gunslinger, Stephen King.
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Offline Evenstar

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Re: Opening lines
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2018, 03:55:10 PM »
I think we had this thread recently and someone posted my absolute favourite:

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

Offline G.L. Snodgrass

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Re: Opening lines
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2018, 09:50:00 PM »
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. = Tale of two cities.

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Offline mmedlock

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Re: Opening lines
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2018, 10:57:51 PM »
It was a dark and stormy night. --Snoopy

Because someone had to put these otherwise trite and bourgeois words in this specific order
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Online C. Gold

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Re: Opening lines
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2018, 11:16:08 PM »
Good beginnings grip you or raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Perhaps it's the imagery or a shocking contradiction. I recently read a book that I knew I was going to read after the first paragraph of the Prologue:

I am a hunter. My prey, my nemesis, has no name. He can be anybody he desires, but then, so can I.
Cards of Fate: The Inhabiters by Michelle Burden

The entire prologue keeps up the mystery of who the hunter and hunted might be. By the end of it, I was clicking buy. The rest of the story didn't disappoint.

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Re: Opening lines
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2018, 11:49:39 PM »
The man in Black fled across the Desert, and the Gunslinger followed.

The Gunslinger, Stephen King.

Yaaaaaassss! ^^^
     

Offline tdecastro31

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Re: Opening lines
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2018, 08:00:57 AM »
"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."  William Gibson, Neuromancer.

"We were about to give up and call it a night when somebody threw the girl off the bridge."
 John D. MacDonald, Darker Than Amber


Offline wilsonharp

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Re: Opening lines
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2018, 08:08:46 AM »
Third vote for The Gunslinger.
     

Offline RRodriguez

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Re: Opening lines
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2018, 11:13:32 AM »
"My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie."
-The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold

That's literally the only opening line I am ever able to remember, and I'm not sure why. To be honest, as much weight and emphasis as there is put on the first sentence, as a reader I tend to give an entire paragraph for my first impression, as often the first sentence might not make a lot of sense (for example, I've never read The Gunslinger and I already hate that first line. Why tf is Black and Desert capatilized?)
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Online Luke Everhart

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Re: Opening lines
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2018, 11:23:10 AM »
My fav opening is probably from the Seth Grahame-Smith adaptation of Jane Austen (a book & movie):
"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains."  ;D

Some other greats as runner-ups are:
"I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice -- not
because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever
knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death,
but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian
because of Owen Meany."
- John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany

"This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it."
- William Goldman, The Princess Bride

"In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move."
- Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

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Offline JRTomlin

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Re: Opening lines
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2018, 11:33:26 AM »
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. - George Orwell, 1984

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Offline CaptnAndy

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Re: Opening lines
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2018, 11:37:23 AM »
As a long time fan, I have to vote for the John D. McDonald opening line.
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Offline Jan Hurst-Nicholson

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Re: Opening lines
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2018, 11:54:41 AM »
I think we had this thread recently


I also recall this thread.

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Offline kw3000

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Re: Opening lines
« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2018, 12:00:38 PM »
Two favorites from Elmore Leonard:

"Every time they got a call from the leper hospital to pick up a body Jack Delaney would feel himself coming down with the flu or something." (Bandits)

"Sunday morning, Ordell took Louis to watch the white-power demonstration in downtown Palm Beach." (Rum Punch)

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Offline Jack.Hardin

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Re: Opening lines
« Reply #16 on: May 23, 2018, 12:07:36 PM »
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. - George Orwell, 1984

ARRHHH. THAT'S WHAT I WAS GOING TO SAY!  haha   Such a great line.
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Online Lorri Moulton

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Re: Opening lines
« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2018, 12:29:28 PM »
"The primroses were over."  --Watership Down

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Offline munboy

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Re: Opening lines
« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2018, 12:57:03 PM »
"All this happened, more or less."

Slaughterhouse-Five
Vonnegut

Immediately creates an unreliable narrator.

EDIT:
Ohhh and...
"It was a pleasure to burn."

Fahrenheit 451
Bradbury
of course
« Last Edit: May 23, 2018, 12:59:21 PM by munboy »

Offline R H Auslander

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Re: Opening lines
« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2018, 01:01:51 PM »
"I am Princess. I know I am Princess because Father calls me Princess and I am allowed to sleep on Father's divan when Father sleeps in the afternoon. I sleep at his feet and I make sure he sleeps good. Sometimes I sleep on Father's divan at night when Father and Mum are sleep. They sleep together in The Big Room on top of the dividers. Sometimes I can quietly come in to The Big Room and sleep beside Father or Mum on the floor next to them. I can be very quiet when I want to be, I am just a blue cloud gently drifting in to The Big Room and no one hears me. I like to do that and I do not wake Mum or Father." 
Shows it is a gentle and kind book.
(Blue Cloud)

The trick with the opening line is to not only entice the reader but give an idea of the tome and genre. This one is written by the author, Annya Koli, a blue Collie with four warm times and she is in her fourth cold time.

Different genre.

"We waited until the sun set, at this time of year that was shortly after 16:00. We had hurriedly planned and rehearsed the action three times, using the basement of an abandoned factory in Ternivka that vaguely resembled the Church basement. We were divided into three teams, one for outer security, two teams to do the actual assault and take down."
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Offline David Brian

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Re: Opening lines
« Reply #20 on: May 23, 2018, 02:15:45 PM »
No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.
                                                                                   - Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House.


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Offline RBN

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Re: Opening lines
« Reply #21 on: May 23, 2018, 02:47:01 PM »
(for example, I've never read The Gunslinger and I already hate that first line. Why tf is Black and Desert capatilized?)

User error. They're not capitalized in the book.

It's a line one may not be able to fully appreciate without reading the whole series.

Offline RRodriguez

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Re: Opening lines
« Reply #22 on: May 23, 2018, 02:53:07 PM »
User error. They're not capitalized in the book.

It's a line one may not be able to fully appreciate without reading the whole series.

Oh, that's a relief, haha! I genuinely thought it was like that in the book as I know that's a stylistic choice some authors make, but it drives me batty!

Though your second comment is interesting because it sort of goes against the grain as to what the original subject was about. Is that REALLY a fantastic opening line? Or is it better appreciated after reading more of the novel?
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Online ShayneRutherford

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Re: Opening lines
« Reply #23 on: May 23, 2018, 03:20:11 PM »
Oh, that's a relief, haha! I genuinely thought it was like that in the book as I know that's a stylistic choice some authors make, but it drives me batty!

Though your second comment is interesting because it sort of goes against the grain as to what the original subject was about. Is that REALLY a fantastic opening line? Or is it better appreciated after reading more of the novel?

I havent read the whole series, but I still think its a fantastic opening line. It sets up the good guy and the bad guy, and drops the reader right into the middle of the action in a single sentence.
     

Offline Joseph Malik

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Re: Opening lines
« Reply #24 on: May 23, 2018, 03:31:43 PM »
"Heggy was a sloppy, mop-headed boy with a wonderful laugh and no last name."
- from The New Magic

There are some lines you write, and some you just write down. I was digging into the description of this character in an early draft, and this line fell out onto the page and I managed to catch it before it got away. I knew immediately that this was how I wanted the book to start; it opens with a horror sequence, and this line sets it up magnificently. A hundred words later, we learn that Heggy is trying to conjure a spirit using stolen magic components.
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