You want to write a novel, and you have a great idea, but you’re not sure how to start. Everybody knows that first line, that first sentence, is extremely important. It has to be right.
If you’re stuck because of the pressure of crafting the perfect opening line, you’re not alone. And neither is your angst misplaced.
I was reading the blog of one of my favorite authors, Jerry Jenkins, this morning when I ran across this post. I have read it before, but sometimes I think we all just need a refresher. If you’re like me, you have so much information being thrown at you, you can’t possibly retain it all.
Most great opening lines fall into one of four categories.
Fiction: “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”- George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-four
Nonfiction: “By the time Eustace Conway was seven years old, he could throw a knife accurately enough to nail a chipmunk to a tree.”-Elizabeth Gilbert, The Last American Man
- Dramatic Statement
Fiction: “They shoot the white girl first.” – Toni Morrison, Paradise
Nonfiction: “I was five years old the first time I ever set foot in prison.” – Jimmy Santiago Baca, A Place to Stand
Fiction: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” – Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
Nonfiction: “It’s not about you.” – Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life
Fiction: “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
Nonfiction: “The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call ‘out there.'” -Truman Capote, In Cold Blood.
This link will take you to some more great opening lines, and one of Jerry Jenkins’s blogs. Here’s a list of famous openers.
Hope this helped!