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Nov 18

Great First Lines by Andrea Lorenz

Posted to Campbell Unclassified on November 18, 2021 at 4:11 PM by Genesis Gaule

“First sentences are doors to worlds.” –Ursula K. Le Guin

One of my favorite things to do is crack open a book that I’m interested in and see if the first line really catches me. I love opening a book, scanning those first few words, and being immediately hooked. I mean, who doesn’t have questions after reading: “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”1 Thirteen?! 

I love first lines that are mysterious, lines that spark the imagination like: “If I die, it will be in the most glorious place that nobody has ever seen.”2

Good first lines can introduce you to new characters, strange and bewildering: “All children, except one, must grow up”3 or characters, clever and humorous: “For the better part of my childhood, my professional aspirations were simple—I wanted to be an intergalactic princess.”4

Sometimes they frighten the pants off of you: “I believe just about anyone can kill in the right circumstances, given enough motivation. The question is, am I there yet? I think I must be,”5 or “The overseers had taken all the carcasses, at least.”6

I especially love first lines that riff on other famous first lines: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.”7

The first line can make or break your interest in a story. My personal favorite? “This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it.”8

Books Referenced In Order:

  1. 1984 by George Orwell
    SF ORWELL
  2. Into the Planet: My Life as a Cave Diver by Jill Heinerth
    796.525 HEINERTH
  3. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
    Easy BARRIE // Also in e-book, e-audiobook, and CD audiobook
  4. Seven Up by Janet Evanovich
    Mystery EVANOVICH
  5. Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton
    Mystery BOLTON
  6. Nophek Gloss by Essa Hansen
    Science Fiction HANSEN
  7. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
  8. The Princess Bride by William Goldman