Friday, August 17, 2012

First Lines

Paper Lantern Lit has a great post about first pages.  Seriously, if you're a writer, check out their advice.  It rocks!

It also got me thinking about first lines in books.  One of my favorites is from The Great Gatsby

In my younger and more venerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.

It's just one line, but it holds so much information.   I've literally made my students discuss this one line for a whole class period before.  It says so much about the narrator, his relationships, his views, and what might potentially happen later in the book.  It amazes me how much just one line can say.

As a writer, the article made me go back and look at the first lines in my books.

CANARY starts:
Your dad will leave you when you are twelve.

CIRCLES starts:
The first time I betrayed my sister was two weeks before she disappeared.

OPERATION PUCKER UP (my MG novel that I hope to hand over to my agent within the next week or two!) starts:
My parents told us during Friday Pizza Night.

What about you?  What are your favorite first lines?  If you are a writer, how does your book start?


Alison Cherry said...

My current WIP begins, "On the tiny screen of my phone, I watch Jayden Montoya grill grubs on the hubcap he's using as a hibachi."

Carol Riggs said...

Those are great first lines! They definitely set up immediate interest and wonder, about what comes next. Good job!! :)

evanroskos said...

That Gatsby opening is so good. One of the most subtle openings, in many ways as it takes on such significance after the first read through.

I love the opening to Don DeLillo's UNDERWORLD:
"He speaks in your voice, American, and there's a shine in his eye that's halfway hopeful."

My debut begins:
"I yawp most mornings to irritate my father, The Brute."

Anonymous said...

Hi, Rachele ~ Jo here from YA Novel Writing ... it's not YA, but I think the opening line from Jeannette Walls' memoir "The Glass Castle" is pretty remarkable. The book opens as follows:

"I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster."

Congrats on finishing "Operation Pucker Up." Good luck on the journey to publishing the novel!

Rachele Alpine said...


That is a GREAT first line and I love love love that book! The kids at my high school read it in 12th grade. Such an amazing story!

I hope your writing is going well! : ) Thanks for visiting my blog!


Elle said...

I have a great first line that I really want to use, but I don't have a book to go with it...yet. I also love first lines! I've always loved the first line of The Fountainhead: "Howard Roark laughed." Especially since, HR never thinks things are funny! (Yeah, maybe I've been drinking too much coffee.)

Becca Christiansen said...


As if it were even possible for me to want to read it more than I already do!

Stephanie said...

My favorite opening line is from Atlas Shrugged:

"Who is John Galt?"

It's a fascinating introduction into the world of the novel and becomes even more intriguing as the story goes on.

Lisa said...

The first line of my WIP is "He's dead when they pull him out of the car."

I wish I could remember some of the great first lines I've read, but they're slipping my mind at the moment.

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