My Writers Circle

The Coffee Shop => Writing Games & Challenges => Topic started by: Wolfe on September 26, 2013, 10:25:33 PM

Title: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: Wolfe on September 26, 2013, 10:25:33 PM
Sio's thread about the worst lines ever, made me wonder, 'What are my favorite opening lines from a novel?'

I have two three that come to mind. The first one's from Evanovich's One for the Money: There are some men who enter a woman's life and screw it up forever. Joseph Morrelli did this to me—not forever, but periodically.

The second one comes from Kultgen's the average american male:Chapter one. Christmas with Mom and Dad. Same old bullshit.

Edit: The third is from Miller's The Song of Achilles: My father was a king, and the son of kings. He was a short man, as most of us were, and built like a bull, all shoulders. He married my mother when she was fourteen and sworn by the priestess to be fruitful. It was a good match: she was only a child, and her father's fortune would go to her husband. He did not find out until the wedding night that she was simple.

What are some of your favorites?
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: wanderer on September 26, 2013, 10:46:50 PM
Quote
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: Alice, a Country Gal on September 26, 2013, 11:27:46 PM
"The deep rumble of approaching German tanks echoed in my chest."

From: To No Man's Glory
A child's Journey from Holocaust to Healing

By Vincent (Arturs Lejnieks) Benson with Vistoria Harnish Benson.

Now, I know the next one would probably never make it past an agent in today's world, let alone a publisher's desk. But it was published in first in 1948, then reprinted in 1949, 1950, 1951 and 1952.  (And I'm old enough to enjoy a dip into the past via old books from time to time.)

"Corie Beckett was going to married. Granny Hite had to sit down when she heard the news, and cry a mite, and let her heart thump for joy like a little old tub mill."

The Nine Brides and Granny Hite
By Neill C. Wilson

(These two are just from books close at hand. In my shelves rest many wonderful opening lines I wish were mine.  8) )
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: Neghe on September 27, 2013, 12:35:24 AM
Just off the top of my head...

It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression “As pretty as an airport." —The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul, Douglas Adams

When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.
―James Crumley, The Last Good Kiss.

There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife. ―Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book.

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. —William Gibson, Neuromancer

He—for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it—was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters. —Virginia Woolf, Orlando

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. —Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle

"No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own. —H.G. Wells, War of the Worlds.

The buzz in the street was like the humming of flies. Photographers stood massed behind barriers patrolled by police, their long-snouted cameras poised, their breath rising like steam. Snow fell steadily on to hats and shoulders; gloved fingers wiped lenses clear. From time to time there came outbreaks of desultory clicking, as the watchers filled the waiting time by snapping the white canvas tent in the middle of the road, the entrance to the tall red-brick apartment block behind it, and the balcony on the top floor from which the body had fallen. —The Cuckoo's Calling by, Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)

It was a pleasure to burn. —Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

There are many more...
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: Annmarie on September 27, 2013, 03:27:25 AM
A cute, recent YA-ish hook:

My life might have been so different had I not been known as the girl whose grandmother exploded.

- The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant


An older opening from one of the US's most amazing and often bizarre writers:

At an age when most young Scotsmen were lifting skirts, plowing furrows and spreading seed, Mungo Park was displaying his bare buttocks to al-haj’ Ali Ibn Fatoudi, Emir of Ludamar. The year was 1795. George II was dabbing the walls of Windsor Castle with his own spittle, the Notables were botching things in France, Goya was deaf, De Quincey a depraved preadolescent...

-- Water Music by TC Boyle


And finally, a powerful opening to an incredible book:

124 was spiteful. Full of baby's venom. The women in the house knew it and so did the children. For years each put up with the spite in his own way, but by 1873 Sethe and her daughter Denver were its only victims.

--Beloved by Toni Morrison


(So many passives. So much telling. And you know what? I don't care.  :))
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: Don on September 27, 2013, 05:52:20 AM
I shook the rain from my hat and walked into the room. Nobody said a word.

I, the Jury, Mickey Spillane


(Nice thread, Wolfe. Thanks.)
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: Foxy on September 27, 2013, 06:43:58 AM
It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn't care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.

The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: protekme on September 27, 2013, 02:06:42 PM

I planned my death carefully; unlike my life, which meandered along from one thing to another, despite my feeble attempts to control it.

--Margaret Atwood

Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: bri h on September 27, 2013, 02:39:54 PM
' When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificance, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.'

The Fellowship of the Ring
(The Lord of the Rings part one) Bri.
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: Trejj on September 27, 2013, 02:51:48 PM
How is this for iconic and wonderful, Dickens, A Tale of two Cities: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair."

And I just like Jane Austin's forthright plucky style.  Perfect starter line for her romantic fare: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: Neghe on September 27, 2013, 03:01:24 PM
When the car stopped rolling, Parker kicked out the rest of the windshield and crawled through onto the wrinkled hood, Glock first. --Backflash by Richard Stark.

It was not the first time Richard Bone had shaved with a Lady Remington, nor did he expect it to be the last. --Cutter and Bone, Newton Thornburg.

Moran's first impression of Nolen Tyler: He looked like a high risk, the kind of guy who falls asleep smoking in bed. —Cat Chaser, by Elmore Leonard.
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: JewelAS53 on September 28, 2013, 05:25:47 AM
Jeffrey Deaver
Out of Place. - Roadside Crosses
Silence. - The Bodies Left Behind.

Oscar Wilde
...Suffering is one very long moment. - De Profundis
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: heidi52 on September 28, 2013, 08:42:32 AM
My lifelong involvement with Mrs. Dempster began at 5:58 o'clock p.m. on 27 December 1908, at which time I was ten years and seven months old.

Robertson Davies Fifth Business

I can just imagine how that line would fare if put up for review here.  ;)
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: Neghe on September 28, 2013, 12:49:15 PM
My lifelong involvement with Mrs. Dempster began at 5:58 o'clock p.m. on 27 December 1908, at which time I was ten years and seven months old.

Robertson Davies Fifth Business

I can just imagine how that line would fare if put up for review here.  ;)

I feel the same about all the ones I've posted.
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: Gyppo on September 28, 2013, 01:44:15 PM
Just a thought...

Are some of our favourite first lines favourites because we enjoyed the book so much?  We look back on them with favour because they heralded us into a new and fantastic world.

Gyppo
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: Neghe on September 28, 2013, 03:28:05 PM
That's the thing about first lines: they are 'spose to be the best line for that particular novel, not all round best line in the world. They are only to move you to the next line and that one is to move you to the next, and so on...

To show this it would be better to post the first 5 or 6 paragraphs rather than the first line. Though, the first line is still mightily important.

The odd bit however, is that some of my very favorite novels have rather unimpressive opining lines. :-\  They did do the job of moving you to the next line though.
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: Alice, a Country Gal on September 28, 2013, 05:23:16 PM
That's the thing about first lines: they are 'spose to be the best line for that particular novel, not all round best line in the world. They are only to move you to the next line and that one is to move you to the next, and so on...

To show this it would be better to post the first 5 or 6 paragraphs rather than the first line. Though, the first line is still mightily important.

The odd bit however, is that some of my very favorite novels have rather unimpressive opining lines. :-\  They did do the job of moving you to the next line though.

But Neghe, this thread is about Your Favorite Opening Line.

Not necessarily connected to your favorite book or even a great book.
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: Neghe on September 28, 2013, 05:59:17 PM
I was answering Gyppo's post:

"Just a thought...

Are some of our favourite first lines favourites because we enjoyed the book so much?  We look back on them with favour because they heralded us into a new and fantastic world."

Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: thatollie on October 03, 2013, 05:13:54 PM
The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.
- The Gunslinger by Stephen King
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: ed on October 04, 2013, 07:37:03 PM
Favourite of all time has to be...


Once upon a time... lol
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: Gyppo on October 04, 2013, 07:43:23 PM
"This is the story of Ewok the Badger, who lived in a poster on a little girl's bedroom wall, and sometimes, just sometimes, he climbed out and went on an adventure."

Out of all the live stories I told to kids at school this was the one which always had them leaning forwards to hear more.
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: bri h on October 05, 2013, 03:41:11 AM
"This is the story of Ewok the Badger, who lived in a poster on a little girl's bedroom wall, and sometimes, just sometimes, he climbed out and went on an adventure."

Out of all the live stories I told to kids at school this was the one which always had them leaning forwards to hear more.

I'm surprised there hasn't been a copyright issue there Gyp? Unless the author is George Lucas? Hmm? B
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: thatollie on October 05, 2013, 03:57:28 AM
"This is the story of Ewok the Badger, who lived in a poster on a little girl's bedroom wall, and sometimes, just sometimes, he climbed out and went on an adventure."

Out of all the live stories I told to kids at school this was the one which always had them leaning forwards to hear more.

Where can I find the whole story?
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: Gyppo on October 05, 2013, 05:23:07 AM
It was a bit of a cheek using one of my own opening lines, but remembering all those eager little faces made me realise it is indeed one of my best opening lines ever.

To answer the various questions about Ewok the badger.  A digression from the strict topic, but it deserves an answer.

1)  Ewok (the badger) lived, and possibly still lives - he never bothers to write despite all I did for him - at the Stubbington Nature Reserve.  Animals often get named after currently fashionable characters in places like that.  His poster adorned hundreds of kids bedrooms and many school walls.  If I walked into a classroom and Ewok was on the wall that was one story taken care of ;-)

2)  Ewok in the story wasn't an Ewok from the film, so there was no real reason for Mr Lucas to get snitty.  Even if he'd been interested in the activities of a lowly wandering storyteller ;-)  The copyrighting and trademarking of nearly every damned thing connected with a tale is fairly recent phenomenon, a la Harry Potter.   Further back Walt Disney were - and still are - very serious about their cartoon characters and would sue people who used copies of Mickey and Co in public places without permission.   But this didn't stop hundreds of talented and sometimes no-so-talented art school students earning a few bob by decorating kids bedrooms with 'Disney Scenes'.

3)  Ollie:  The story is on a floppy disc somewhere, buried in my archives.  Well, the basic skeleton of the story.  It changed from school to school.   I'd ask if any of the little girls had an Ewok poster, and if so that would be the name of the girl in the story.  A few more questions set up the framework for his adventures.  Did the family have a cat or a dog?  Or even a goldfish?  Sometimes he would drink a little water from the goldfish bowl, 'because if you'd been stuck in a poster for years you'd be thirsty, wouldn't you children?'

He could only get out of the poster if the moonlight through the window hit it just right.  (I wonder how many kids drove their parents mad by asking them to move the poster to a more suitable wall?)

Once he jumped down he wandered around the house, checking out smells and other interesting things, and polished off any food left lying uncovered. He pushed up the lid of the freezer, but it rattled at him and made him go and hide under the sofa, which is where he frightened the cat, which promptly dashed out through the cat flap.

He looked out through the cat flap and had a good old sniff, but although it was interesting he decided that the world outside was a bit too wild for a poster badger.
  
By then he'd be getting twitchy, thinking he needed to get back into his poster before the little girl woke up and found him missing.  But it was a long jump back up so he had to clamber onto her bookshelves first and inevitably knocked over a book or two, leaving a clue.  

As long as he got back before the moonlight left the poster he was okay, but sometimes he was a little bit late and couldn't get into quite the right position, so a little girl with a keen eye would know he'd been up to something.

With live storytelling you can watch the faces and trim or pad according the audience reaction.  A luxury we don't have in print.

One day I shall tell it to my Grandaughter, especially if she ever has a badger poster.

Gyppo
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: bri h on October 05, 2013, 05:29:37 AM
Anyone seen gyppo?
Yeah I saw him a couple of minutes ago, heading into town. He was in a right state, an' he was mutterin, . . . "Me n my big mouth. Where the hell am I gonna get a badger poster from? this ain't the 70's." heh heh. B
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: Neghe on October 05, 2013, 12:49:54 PM
I'm surprised there hasn't been a copyright issue there Gyp? Unless the author is George Lucas? Hmm? B

You can not copyright names, titles, or ideas.
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: bri h on October 05, 2013, 12:53:52 PM
So if I call my school-themed Café, 'Hogwarts,' I'm not going to get a team of hardened lawyers bearing down on me, tryin to sue my ass?  :)
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: Pale Writer on October 05, 2013, 01:03:42 PM
Charlie Farquharson

Quote
'At the start there wasn't a thing. That'd be yer Void. Dark too.

His rendition of Genesis. I read it in my 20's and still remember. That counts for something.
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: Neghe on October 05, 2013, 01:17:22 PM
So if I call my school-themed Café, 'Hogwarts,' I'm not going to get a team of hardened lawyers bearing down on me, tryin to sue my ass?  :)

If it's not trademarked then you can use it. However, nearly everything to do with Potter is highly likely to have been trademarked.  
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: bri h on October 05, 2013, 01:32:15 PM
If it's not trademarked then you can use it. However, nearly everything to do with Potter is highly likely to have been trademarked.  

"Damn! Another brilliant idea up the Swannee!" heh heh.

And Paley, I was intrigued by your 'Genesis' comment. I'm gonna search it out later. It reminds me of the story of Jericho (I think). It went a little like . . . "But Joshua's feet didn't get wet cos he had his wellies on," or something like that?  ;D
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: Alice, a Country Gal on October 05, 2013, 01:40:01 PM
Hey guys, this isn't the trademark or copyright thread . . .

It is "Favorite Opening Lines" thread. Can you please stick to the topic? There are lots of other thread to play around in.
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: bri h on October 05, 2013, 02:05:47 PM
Sorry Alice. B
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: Laura H on October 05, 2013, 03:29:45 PM
You know, some of my all time favorite first lines are from the books of my childhood.  Case in point-

Norton Juster
The Phantom Tollbooth

There was once a boy named Milo who didn't know what to do with himself-not just sometimes, but always.
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: DWisker on July 14, 2014, 02:51:19 PM
Quote
“In five years the penis will be obsolete,” said the salesman.

~ John Varley, Steel Beach
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: Lon Palmer on July 21, 2014, 10:26:28 AM
“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
Title: Re: Favorite Opening Lines?
Post by: Alice, a Country Gal on July 21, 2014, 01:18:34 PM
^ ^ from: Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina


Charles Howard had the feel of a gigantic onrushing machine: You had to either climb on or jump out of the way.

            Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand