Just a few of my favorite opening lines. I plan on returning to this theme from time to time, as I’m fascinated by what resonates for me and draws me into a novel.
THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, SHIRLEY JACKSON (ONE OF THE FINEST FIRST PARAGRAPHS IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, I THINK):
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.
THE SHINING, STEPHEN KING:
Jack Torrance thought: officious little prick.
ANOTHER FROM KING, IT:
The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years – if it ever did end – began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain.
FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS, HUNTER S. THOMPSON:
We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.
THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, NEIL GAIMAN:
There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.
FAHRENHEIT 451, RAY BRADBURY:
It was a pleasure to burn.
GEEK LOVE, KATHERINE DUNN:
When your mama was the geek, my dreamlets,” Papa would say, “she made the nipping off of noggins such a crystal mystery that the hens themselves yearned toward her, waltzing around her, hypnotized with longing.
THE GOLDEN COMPASS, PHILIP PULLMAN:
Lyra and her daemon moved through the darkening Hall, taking care to keep to one side, out of sight of the kitchen.
BASTARD OUT OF CAROLINA, DOROTHY ALLISON:
I’ve been called Bone all my life, but my name’s Ruth Anne. I was named for and by my oldest aunt—Aunt Ruth. My mama didn’t have much to say about it, since strictly speaking, she wasn’t there. Mama and a carful of my aunts and uncles had been going out to the airport to meet one of the cousins who was on his way back from playing soldier. Aunt Alma, Aunt Ruth, and her husband, Travis, were squeezed into the front, and Mama was stretched out in back, sound asleep. Mama hadn’t adjusted to pregnant life very happily, and by the time she was eight months gone, she had a lot of trouble sleeping. She said that when she lay on her back it felt like I was crushing her, when she lay on her side it felt like I was climbing up her backbone, and there was no rest on her stomach at all. Her only comfort was the backseat of Uncle Travis’s Chevy, which was jacked up so high that it easily cradled little kids or pregnant women. Moments after lying back into that seat, Mama had fallen into her first deep sleep in eight months. She slept so hard, even the accident didn’t wake her up.
EVERY HEART A DOORWAY, SEANAN MCGUIRE:
Together, they walked across the property; the girl, the boy, and the dancing skeleton wrapped in rainbows.
2 thoughts on “Favorite Opening Lines”
I had forgotten about The Graveyard Book. Such a good opening line.
I agree, so much is conveyed in just a short sentence.
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