13 May 2011

What's Your Opening Line? Challenge

First Lines have long been a passion of mine (The Mom). Last night as I began a new book --one that The Dad has been urging me to read for ages (see: What are You Reading RIGHT NOW! for more) I was sleepy, very sleepy --but the opening line hooked me. And I stayed up way too late, enjoying my new book.

Some first lines are so good, so catchy, so memorable that we never forget them, they even become a points of reference on Literature's permanent landscape. Think about it --we bet one comes to mind. 

Give your self a quick test --do you recognize these opening lines? Click on comments to check your answers.
  1. “This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it.”
  2. “The play – for Which Briony had designed the posters, programs and tickets, constructed the sales booth out of a folding screen tipped on its side, and lined the collection box in red crêpe paper – was written by her in a two-day tempest of composition, causing her to miss a breakfast and a lunch.”
  3. “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth."
  4. "A few months after my twenty-first birthday, a stranger called to give me the news."
  5. “Not every 13-year-old girl is accused of murder, brought to trial, and found guilty.”
  6. “Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
  7. "At night I would lie in bed and watch the show, how bees squeezed through the cracks of my bedroom wall and flew circles around the room, making that propeller sound, a high-pitched zzzzzz that hummed along my skin."
One LONG opening line!
  1. "Mrs. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladies' eardrops and traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place; it was reputed to be an intricate, headlong brook in its earlier course through those woods, with dark secrets of pool and cascade; but by the time it reached Lynde's Hollow it was a quiet well-conducted little stream, for not even a brook could run past Mrs. Rachel Lynde's door without due regard for decency and decorum; it probably was conscious that Mrs. Rachel was sitting at her window, keeping a sharp eye on everything that passed, from brooks and children up, and that if she noticed anything odd or out of place she would never rest until she had ferreted out the whys and wherefores thereof." (THAT IS ONE SENTENCE!!!)
  2. "There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it."
  3. "'Where's Papa going with that axe?' said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast."
  4. "That fool of a fairy Lucinda did not intend to lay a curse on me."
  5. "Tamisin Warner saw real goblins the Halloween she was eleven."
  6. "It was a dark and stormy night."
  7. "This story begins within the walls of a castle, with the birth of a mouse."
Your challenge this week: give us a good opening line. 

One from memory, search out opening lines on the internet (there are lots of great lists), go to your bookshelf and pull a favorite. 

Whichever way you choose, What's Your Opening Line? And can you guess the first line others have added?



    1. The Princess Bride, William Goldman
    2. Atonement, Ian McEwan
    3. Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
    4. Dreams from My Father, Barack Obama
    5. True confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Avi (Newberry Winner)
    6. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
    7. The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd

    The Big Sister's answers:

    1. Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery
    2. Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C. S. Lewis
    3. Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White
    4. Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine
    5. Wings, E.D. Baker
    6. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle (This has been used often to begin books --permanent landscape.)
    7. Desperaux, Kate DiCamillo

    How did you do?

  2. Last night I began reading a book it began with

    "The original manuscript of this book was left outside the boor of my hotel room in Montefalcone, in Italy, in May 1962."

    I read a few pages and the book seemed to begin again, at the beginning...

    "The hour this story begins is known."

    These openings had me curious enough --I wondered, for a moment, is this true, is this historical? Yes, it hooked me for sure... it had me at "hello." ;)

    For the title and author of the book go to What are You Reading RIGHT NOW? I just commented! Hope you will too!

  3. "Someone had turned off the wireless and, in spite of the room being full of people, there was complete silence - in which Polly could feel, and almost hear, her own heart thudding."

    "After eight months spent in the obscurity of our mother's womb, my brother, Shiva, and I came into the world in the late afternoon of the twentieth of September in the year of grace 1954."

    "I am Ines Suarez, a townswoman of the loyal city of Santiago de Nueva Extremadura in the kingdom of Chile, writing in the year of Our Lord 1580."

    "This is the story of a woman and a man who loved one another so deeply that they saved themselves from a banal existence."

  4. So I know this one will be easy, but it is the perfect example of a GREAT opening line, who wouldn't want to read more of a story that starts like this?

    "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit."

    P.S. sorry you lost the comments and I was one of the people who tried to post but couldn't on Thursday, glad you are back

  5. Thanks @Tracey and Janey! It is so tempting to jump in and answer, but we'll give other people a chance! (Janey, we accidently deleted YOUR comment, but we were able to re-post the text (hope you don't mind ;))

  6. “I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time.”

  7. "Having harbored two sons in the waters of her womb, my mother considers herself something of an authority on human foetuses."

  8. "Mother died today."
    (Translated from the French: "Aujourd'hui, maman est morte."

  9. Anela Oh12:55 PM

    "Even before he got electrocuted, Jason was having a bad day."

  10. Anela Oh6:46 PM

    ahaha i know its been a long time but i have another great one it also gives a hint to my other one because it's by the same author :)
    "The end of the world started when a pegasus landed on the hood of my car."

  11. Love it Anela!! Okay Readers --anyone know these! Please add more!! Happy Reading!