Has it happened to you? That moment when you open a book, let your eyes rest on the first page, and suddenly, you’re transported. Or shocked. Or laughing. Because the very first line has done exactly what the author hoped. It grabbed you, pulling you into the story as inexorably as a Pacific ocean riptide will carry you out to sea. And, depending on the kind of book, it can be equally terrifying. Or unbearably sweet. Or so startling in its accuracy that you catch your breath.
This, friends, is why we labor so over those first lines. Fiction, nonfiction, it doesn’t matter. We want those first words on the page to SPEAK to the reader. So here, from both fiction and nonfiction, are some first lines that have accomplished that for me. Anyone recognize any of them?
“This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it.”
“It’s Nathan’s fault I became God.”
“I once listened to an Indian on television say that God was in the wind and the water, and I wondered at how beautiful that was because it meant you could swim in Him or have Him brush your face in a breeze.”
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
“I’m going to cut him open.”
I’ll give you the answers next week. But for now, what are some of the first lines that have been effective for you? Give us the line and the book/author.