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Novel First Opening lines

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I have been trying to write that all important first line for my new WIP.

 

Below is an article I came across while looking for inspiration

 

Greatest first lines in books   

 

So far my opening line is:

 

When the gunshots rang out, the boy switched the ignition on and revved the engine, just as his mom had taught him.

 

And that was the 8th attempt😀

 

What is your favourite opening line?

 

Mine is George Orwell's 1984 (it in the link).  It is so simple and uses something so familiar to us that you almost miss the quirk at the end. 

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Posted (edited)

An uncompleted novel of mine begins with the words:

 

     He wrote on the back of a postcard.

     "I'm in Oaxaca (Pronounced "Wah-Hah-Kah") Mexico, on the first Tuesday in February. I'm enjoying very warm days, very hot food and good cold beer.  Wish you were here.
                                                                                Frank."


     23 year old Frank Sandrell was glad he'd made his airline and hotel reservations back in October.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Many years before I started the writing, I actually did write those words on the back of an actual postcard.

 

Edited by William D'Andrea
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1 hour ago, William D'Andrea said:

Wish you were here.

A friend of mine was picking out a dress for her mother for the funeral. She had really liked and often worn a dress with pictures of post cards from different places. She put the dress on her mother, but then she removed it. On the front, just under where her mother's hands would rest, was a card that said, "Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here."

 

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26 minutes ago, carolinamtne said:

"Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here."

 

{giggle} Love that! I would have left the dress on her. ;)

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I'll go with "Call me Ishmael". It's short and succinct.

 

BTW, I like your 8th attempt. I'm ready for more of the story. It actually packs a lot of information in a few words.

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"You know what the difference between me and you really is?  You look out there and see a horde of evil, brain eating zombies.  I look out there and see a target-rich environment."

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I enjoy the opening section of Dune. World building starts unobtrusively right off the bat, many important characters are introduced, and a lot of mysteries are introduced to keep the reader interested. It also doesn't hurt that I just like the way Frank Herbert constructs his prose. His sentences are just enjoyable to read in their own right.

When I was in high school I had to write a short story for a class. I don't remember what the writing prompt was but the opening line was something like "It was his time to shine." The story was about the self-actualization of a nuclear weapon.

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Opening line from my treasure hunting book:

 

"Three heads were bent over an iPad. Three heads put together were trying to figure out how long it was to take them to drive from Indianapolis, Indiana, to Charleston, South Carolina. And these three heads, having cracked painfully, belonged to three sisters."

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You guys got some good ones! 😊 Here's my current WIP:

 

"The festivities were in fully swing. The party had commenced for an indefinite amount of time in which the students had proved themselves hearty scholars of indulgence."

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7 hours ago, Sophie said:

The party had commenced for an indefinite amount of time in which the students had proved themselves hearty scholars of indulgence."

Ohh ... I love this one! Good one, @Sophie!

 

My favorite opening line is definitely Charles Dickens' Tale of Two Cities:

Quote

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ....

 

My current WIP has the following opening line:

"The fever had ravaged his mind more than it had his body."

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It's not just the first line that matters anymore, with the "Preview book" function on every major book seller's website (Amazon, iBooks, GP, every other I know of) the first few pages of your novel are almost as important as the rest of the book! Some serious pressure for those first few pages.

 

I would re-write your opening line like this but it's just my personal style:

 

When the gunshots rang out, the boy switched the ignition on and revved the engine, just as his mom had taught him. ------------> The sound of gunshots still echoed in the boy's ears but he remembered what his mom told him, and so with a shaking hand he reached towards the ignition, praying the car would start. It did.

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It's not just the first line that matters anymore, with the "Preview book" function on every major book seller's website (Amazon, iBooks, GP, every other I know of) the first few pages of your novel are almost as important as the rest of the book! Some serious pressure for those first few pages.

 

I would re-write your opening line like this but it's just my personal style:

 

When the gunshots rang out, the boy switched the ignition on and revved the engine, just as his mom had taught him. ------------> The sound of gunshots still echoed in the boy's ears but he remembered what his mom told him, and so with a shaking hand he reached towards the ignition, praying the car would start. It did.

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I don't know about 'Favorite first lines, but this is the best first line I've used.

 

'At the CDC Atlanta Dr. Vernon Sedgwick hooked the air supply hose into his bio suit and opened the door of the level 5 bio containment where a fresh slide of the virus lay ready.'

 

 

 

 

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All these are great, but I've got to go with Moby Dick's opening line myself. That book is magical, especially if first encountered in late childhood/early teens. Decades later I read it again during a period of severe illness on a day I just needed to go "somewhere else." I read for twelve hours straight and finished the book in one day...probably one of the few people to have done that.

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3 minutes ago, Zee said:

I read for twelve hours straight and finished the book in one day...probably one of the few people to have done that.

Give me a good book, and I can read it in less than a day. Or an hour, depending on the length and size of it.

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I'm a pretty slow reader, probably becuase I like to really study and understand the book.

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@Sophie, its the best way to read a book. I'm actually a fairly fast reader, and I miss quite a bit in reading fast. Reading slowly means that you really appreciate the words and don't just get the bigger picture.

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Oh, good, that makes me feel better! Both my sisters are really fast readers. ;) However, if its a really intriguing book, I might could read it in two days, but then I'll have to go back read it at least three others times. :P

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I go through fits and spurts.

 

On holiday I read voraciously because I have to time. Otherwise it can take time reading a book - although if I get really engross I can read into the small hours. Not great when you have work the next day.



 

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2 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

Wait a minute, Claire, you can read Melville's Moby Dick in an hour- I'm impressed!!😀

I am too! It took me a whole day. Still not a fan, but I think it is just me. 😉

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My favorite is from CS Lewis, from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader:

 

"There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it."

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