10 Favorite Opening Lines

Beginnings are important. How often have you heard that? It’s probably up there with show don’t tell. But it’s true, and in today’s publishing world, even more vital if you want to hook your reader before they are distracted by another app, or text message, or phone call. I thought it would be fun to look at how 10 authors made me want to read further.

1) The Last Knight by Hilari Bell:  To say it was a dark and stormy night would be a gross understatement.

I love the play on the cliché. It made me laugh and that made me want to read more.

2) Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich: My mother and grandmother raised me to be a good girl, and I have no problem with the girl part.

This tells me so much about her character. I can’t wait to see what she gets up to.

3) Libromancer by Jim C. Hines: Some people would say it’s a bad idea to bring a fire-spider into a public library.

Again, it made me laugh. In addition to it being an interesting creature, I love the idea combining a fire-spider with books. How could that possibly be the lesser of two evils?

4) Kissing Shakespeare by Pam Mingle: I was all alone backstage.

I find back stage exotic and a bit fearful. There are all the props and costumes and a Phantom of the Opera atmosphere. I’m halfway expecting something or someone to jump out at her.

5) Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon: Between her toes the damp earth felt cool, but already sweat crept between the roots of her hair.

I love the contrast of hot and cold. Plus I know what sweaty hair feels like working in the garden.

6) Kiss An Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips: Daisy Devereux had forgotten her bridegroom’s name.

Okay, is this a Vegas wedding? An arranged marriage? What is going on?

7) Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett: When the storm came it hit the hills like a hammer.

I can feel the power of that storm and pity anyone out in it.

8) Shadow in the North by Philip Pullman: One sunny morning in the spring of 1878, the steamship Ingrid Linde, the pride of the Anglo-Baltic shipping line, vanished in the Baltic Sea.

Vanishing ships are always interesting. How could a ship disappear? Foul play must be involved. And the Baltic Sea sounds so much more exotic than the Atlantic, or Pacific.

9) Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi: From the top of the large boulder he sat on, Ensign Tom Davis looked across the expanse of the cave toward Captain Lucius Abernathy, Science Officer Q’eeng and Chief Engineer Paul West perched on a second, larger boulder, and thought, Well, this sucks.

This book had me from the title. As a fan of Star Trek I know what to expect when someone wears a red shirt on an away mission. The poor sucker will be dead before the commercial break. And indeed, poor Tom Davis is dead before five pages have gone by. What is really interesting, though, which is hinted at in the opening sentence, is that he knows he’s screwed because he’s on an away mission with these particular crew members. He is aware of the red shirt phenomenon. But that knowledge doesn’t save him.

10) Dreamdark—Blackbringer by Lani Taylor: The wolf tasted the babe’s face with the tip of his tongue and pronounced her sweet, and the fox licked the back of her head to see if it was so.

I found this intriguing. Does sweet refer to taste or nature?

These beginnings hooked me because they connected with my own feelings or experiences, created an intriguing setting for me, had interesting contrasts, twisted a cliché, made me ask a question, or made me laugh. What kind of opening hooks you? What is one of your favorite opening lines?

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