We talk a lot in the writing world about the need to grab our reader’s interest in the opening pages of a book. Not until the American Title Contest though, did I give serious thought to the potential power of the first sentence.
Certainly some books have incredible, memorable openings:
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” (Austen, Pride and Prejudice)
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” (Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities)
“Call me Ishmael.”(Melville, Moby Dick)
But those are well-loved classics. Would we think those lines so great if we didn’t know the stories that follow them?
Curious about how the authors of today are crafting their first lines, I grabbed a few favorite books off my shelf. See what you think of these opening sentences:
1. There are some men who enter a woman’s life and screw it up forever.
2. His footsteps were soundless, but Victoria felt him moving.
3. Anthony Bridgerton had always known he would die young.
4. I didn’t realize he was a werewolf at first.
5. One fine August evening in South Carolina, Agnes Crandall stirred raspberries and sugar in her heavy nonstick frying pan and defended her fiancé to the only man she’d ever trusted.
As with the classics above, my opinion isn’t unbiased because I know the stories that follow them, but all five of these first lines set a tone and pull me right along to the next sentence. The books and their clever authors are:
1. Janet Evanovich, One for the Money.
2. Colleen Gleason, Rises the Night
3. Julia Quinn, The Viscount who Loved Me
4. Patricia Briggs, Moon Called
5. Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer, Agnes and the Hitman
What are the opening lines of some of your favorite books – and was it “love at first sentence?”