Sunday, May 23, 2010

Outstanding Openers

by Raelene Gorlinsky

The night I died, I was wrestling a garbage can to the curb.

The face of the dead medium was a ghostly blur beneath the bloodstained wedding veil.

Prince Henrik was a frog. It wasn’t his idea, but he was one.

When Lorcan O’Halloran, four-thousand-year-old vampire and professed Druid, fell at my feet, it wasn’t to beg forgiveness for killing me three months ago.

“Watch out for the elves, Simon.”

I hate raising the dead on a work night.

“Oh, look, a crop circle. Let’s stop and see if we will be abducted by aliens.”

Will the opening line of your story catch my attention as much as the ones above, make me eager to read on? If not, rewrite your first line! First impressions do count, especially with “strangers”—like acquiring editors, agents, and readers not already your fans. You can kill a sale by a lackluster beginning. Make the first sentence—and then the whole first page—something that reaches out and grabs the reader by the throat, dragging them into the story.

Oh, and don’t neglect the potential of short and catchy front matter, if it fits your story.

“WARNING: This is a bawdy tale. Herein you will find gratuitous shagging, murder, spanking, maiming, treason, and heretofore unexplored heights of vulgarity and profanity, as well as non-traditional grammar, split infinitives, and the odd wank.”

Want to share with us a fantastic opening sentence from a book you’ve read?

(Points to anyone who can identify the stories above. And if you’re the author of one of them—see, it worked, I read your book.)

6 comments:

ClothDragon said...

I follow on rss so I don't often see the comments, but I came by the real site today just to see who wrote what. Several of those opening lines caught my attention too.

It seems I came too early and I will have to come back later in my search for answers.

Carla Swafford said...

Not sure about the others, but I had thought the last appeared to be Russell Brand's MY BOOKY WOOK. LOL! I checked and it wasn't. But he did dedicate the book to his mum and also warned her not to read it.

Great first lines indeed.

Carla Swafford said...

Oh, one of my favorite books, IT HAD TO BE You, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, had a great first line. "Phoebe Somerville outraged everyone by bringing a French poodle and a Hungarian lover to her father's funeral." Poetry! LOL!

Beth said...

"The night I died, I was wrestling a garbage can to the curb."
"When Lorcan O’Halloran, four-thousand-year-old vampire and professed Druid, fell at my feet, it wasn’t to beg forgiveness for killing me three months ago."
Those are from Books 1 & 2 of Michelle Bardsley's Brokenheart series.
Books 3 & 5 of that series also have good opening lines in my opinion.
Then there is Transcending Darkness by Kate Steele. the opening line of the blurb is "Is it possible to start a new life with a bang…or rather, a spanking?" and the opening line of the story is "Death came cloaked not in black but in fiery yellow orange. It was the color of fury…fury blazing from the eyes of a werewolf betrayed." Both lines just scream 'you have to read me'.

Kate S said...

“WARNING: This is a bawdy tale. Herein you will find gratuitous shagging, murder, spanking, maiming, treason, and heretofore unexplored heights of vulgarity and profanity, as well as non-traditional grammar, split infinitives, and the odd wank.”

From FOOL by Christopher Moore (love him.) :)

Although this wasn't the opening line in the first chapter, it was in the front page and got me to buy the book without even reading any farther: "The toad looked a bit shifty."

(From "The Wee Free Men" by Terry Pratchett.)

The lines you provided now make me want to find those books, too. :)

Anonymous said...

I don't know any of these but Joshilyn Jackson ALWAYS has impossible-to-walk-away-from opening lines.