Isn't this one of the rules for writing a story, that the first line needs to hook the reader in? Or something like that anyway. I do think this is true. That first line either grabs me or it doesn't. Yet it takes more than that before I've made up my opinion on the story. I usually have to read at least the first paragraph or the first page or two to tell whether I want to keep reading or not. But that first line may end up being what I remember if it's written well. I can only imagine the pressure that writers feel to try and get that line just right. It can't be easy.
One thing I do know. While a well-written sentence can hook me in, that doesn't mean the story itself will. (note: all the books I've listed below are ones I've read and that I like. A lot.) I've certainly started a story having fun and ended up disappointed. And likewise, a poorly-written sentence may hide a jewel of a story within! But remember, this is all subjective to my own opinions of what's well-written and what's not, of course. :)
Anyway. I decided to share some of my favorite first lines with you today. This is just a few of them. This is not all of them by far. But if I did a post of all of them, it would never be over and you'd be sick of me and never come back and I would be sad and things would be awful and life would be over! I can't let that happen! So this is just a few. A few first lines from a few books that I picked up at random from my shelves, basically. But they wouldn't be here if I didn't like them. You'll also be getting a small look at the eclectic mix of books I read. Bravely go onward!
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." ~ Jane Austen, Pride and PrejudiceCome on. You knew I'd have at least one of Austen's books on this list. Right? And why not this one? It's a classic! For good reason. It's an awesome sentence. :D
"Hiding in plain sight, the old man crept through the halls of the palace, his ancient heart keeping pace with the shifting of his black eyes." ~ Serena Chase, The RynThis line totally drew me in. I immediately wanted to know more! Who was this man? What palace? How old is ancient? And black eyes? Intriguing. Very intriguing! Well done, Ms. Chase.
"The first Wednesday in every month was a Perfectly Awful Day--a day to be awaited with dread, endured with courage and forgotten with haste." ~ Jean Webster, Daddy Long LegsAnd of course you knew I'd name this one too, didn't you? It's only one of my absolute favorite books ever! I already expounded on the delights of this story before, so I won't again. But I love this line.
"Would it kill you to get here before noon? I'm sitting here among the shards of my life as I know it, and you....if I know you, you just woke up." ~ Rainbow Rowell, AttachmentsFirstly, we don't know who's talking. But whoever they're talking to has to be my kind of person, because I like to sleep in too. (What can I say? I'm a night owl. :) And secondly, "shards of my life"? Sounds dire, right? Or someone pretty snarky. Tell me more! (Chocolate chip cookies to anyone who can name the musical that line is from! Hint-it's from a song. A catchy song that never leaves my head once I start singing it.) (And those chocolate chip cookies are metaphorical by the way. But I'll still give them to you! Who doesn't like chocolate chip cookies, metaphorical or not?)
"There once was a girl who'd been praying for a husband since the fourth grade." ~ Becky Wade, My Stubborn HeartSo you can tell immediately that this is going to be a romance. And I love a good romance in a story! (I freely admit to being a hopeless romantic.) And this girl is determined! Since the fourth grade? Wow.
"Nothing creates buzz like an Executive Deluxe day planner. Not that I have much experience with buzzes, especially of the chemical variety, but my brother did double-dose me on NyQuil once when I was eleven." ~ Lindsey Leavitt, Sean Griswold's HeadWho gets excited over a day planner? Someone who is obviously a good girl. A good girl whose life is about to be shaken.
"For two hours a night, Monday through Saturday, Isadora Presley became the girl she'd lost." ~ Susan May Warren, My Foolish HeartI love that line! Really love it. I think it may be one of my top favorite lines ever. If that doesn't make you curious about Isadora, I don't know what will.
"For years, I could not recall the day without a smoldering coal of remorse burning within me." ~ Julie Klassen, The Silent GovernessJulie Klassen is an amazing writer. I don't think it's possible for her to write a bad book. And what a way to start a story! The descriptions she writes leap off the page. Can't you imagine that hot, smoldering coal inside? And what memory causes this reaction? We must know more! Read this book. Seriously. Read it. Or pick any one of her books. They're all awesome!!
"There are so many ways it could have all turned out differently." ~ Jennifer E. Smith, The Statistical Probability of Love at First SightAnd then she proceeds to name all the decisions that could have changed the way things happened. A story of coincidences and timing and falling in love. I'm not usually a believer in love at first sight, but this story? It made me believe in it. At least until I was completely done reading. :)
"Someone's car was totaled and it wasn't my fault. But who's going to believe a teenager?" ~ A & E Kirk, Demons at DeadnightAnd thus begins Aurora's story. Don't let the title fool you. The demons aren't good and the characters are out to defeat them. But what a ride! Aurora is awesome. Enough said.
"Sometimes I think about when I was little, and my older brothers would take me out to fly kites." ~ Jenny B. Jones, There You'll Find MeThis line strikes me because I have older brothers myself. Granted, I'm not sure they ever took me out to fly kites, but I do have wonderful memories from when we were younger. So this line makes me eager for more about these sibling relationships!
"It only takes a day and a half for the dreams to find me again." ~ Lisa McKay, My Hands Came Away RedA fabulous first line for a fabulous story! Go. Go read it right now. Drop everything and go read it right now!
"My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die. I counted." ~ Melina Marchetta, Jellicoe RoadAnother fabulous story. My words to describe it? I have none. It's an experience you must read for yourself. So do that, okay? :)