First Lines

Whenever I walk into a bookstore and am enticed by a novel, I read the first line. If I like the first line, I allow myself (if I have time) to read the first chapter of the book. If I like the first chapter, then I write down the title for a library book rental or purchase the book at that moment.

I sometimes struggle with writing the perfect first line of a story because the rest falls flat (feels like for me) and doesn’t live up to what I promised my reader in that first line. I’ve read so many great first lines of stories and novels that I wonder how long the authors spent on constructing those amazing intros.

The First Line Literary Journal is all about first lines. Except the journal provides the first line and the writer fills in the rest. Pretty neat, huh? It also works as a contest where there is a possibility the story can be published in the journal. I’ve never submitted because I couldn’t commit to doing this due to terrible time management. Like I’ve mentioned before on this blog, the goal is to submit somewhere and this could be that somewhere.

What are your favorite first lines in a novel or short story?

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2 responses to “First Lines

  1. LIghtheartedly – a western that began, ” Quiet Town wasn’t!”

    In a novel – really the first paragraph of Pilgrim’s Progress.

    In all literature – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

    Great Site!

  2. Hi Rose,

    Isn’t it amazing how that first line can make or break a novel’s sale? I first digest the blurb on the back cover, and if that interests me I’ll flick through the book, and yes, an author’s merit all rests upon that first promising line! It’s like the first taste of an Ice cream sundae, but some taste sweeter than others.

    With my own novel I spent so many hours one day changing the first line, that I think i got to a point where I could no longer spell or understand the English language! 😉

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