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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
Tag(s): science fiction, recommendations, nonfiction, junior fiction, fiction, articles, Andrea Lorenz