The Opening Step on an Adventure

With NaNoWriMo just around the corner I’ve been thinking a lot about first lines and what makes a first line good.

From what I’ve found there is not an exact answer for what makes a first line good.

But they do grip the reader in some way.

So, today I would like to share with you some amazingly, gripping first lines.


It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. – George Orwell, 1984

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. – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. – Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. – C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

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

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

The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting. – Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage

Call me Ishmael. – Herman Melville, Moby Dick

All children, except one, grow up. – J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

In the land of Ingary, where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is a misfortune to be born the eldest of three. – Diana Wynn Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. – J.K. Rowlings, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. – Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The story so far: In the beginning the Universe was created. This had made a lot of people very angry and had been widely regarded as a bad move. – Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it. – William Goldman, The Princess Bride

If it had not rained on a certain May morning Valancy Stirling’s whole life would have been entirely different. – L.M. Montgomery, The Blue Castle

Had he but known that before the day was over he would discover the hidden dimensions of the universe, Kit might have been better prepared. At least, he would have brought an umbrella. – Stephen R. Lawhead, The Skin Map

It seems to me that good first lines pull you in by making you question something. Maybe it is something that would not happen in our world, or maybe it is something that we don’t quite understand.

A good first line for me sets the feel for the book while making me wonder what will happen next.

What would you say makes a good opening line?


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