Monday, December 13, 2010

Favorite First Lines

Have you ever gone to a bookstore, picked out a book and read the first line? Did it make you want to read more? Or did you put it back?

I am a bit fascinated with first lines. They can pull you in to the story. They can ask a great question and they can nail the main character's personality.

I looked through some of my favorite books and read the first lines. Here's what I found:

  1. The whole world is wilting. Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr
  2. It is my first morning of high school. I have seven new notebooks, a skirt I hate, and a stomachache. (Okay, that's two lines, but still . . .) Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  3. This isn't about me. Larger-Than-Life Lara by Dandi Daley Mackall
  4. Ida Mae Babbitt didn't know what cookie to serve with bad news. Secret Sisters by Tristi Pinkston
  5. He was going to kiss her. Life in the Pit by Kristen Landon
  6. I was sixteen years old the day I was lost in the forest, sixteen the day I met my death. (There is a prologue in this story and this is the first line of Chapter 1) Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
  7. I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster. (I think this is my favorite.) The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
  8. The problem with getting bad news is you hardly ever get to go home and cry, or sulk, or rip things up, like you'd like to.
    All's Fair in Love, War, and High School by Janette Rallison
  9. The best time to talk to ghosts is just before the sun comes up. Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson (She's got great first lines, eh?)
  10. (There isn't a first line exactly, the first page is the program for a funeral service.) The first line would actually be—Funeral Service for Joel Everett Espen—The Way He Lived by Emily Wing Smith (pretty moving, huh?)

Are there some great lines there, or what? What did they do for you? Did they ask you a question or make you think or make you want to know more? Did you get a great sense of the main character?

What are some of your favorite first lines?

I'm sorry there are so many. I really was going to stop at five, but I couldn't do it. I liked them all.


  1. I LOVE this post! What a great idea.
    My favorite is The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B Dunkle:
    She had never screamed before, not when the ivy broke and she crashed into the shrubbery below, not even when Lightfoot bucked her off and she felt her leg break underneath her with an agonzing crunch . . . But now she screamed, long and loud, with all her breath.

  2. These are so cool! What a super idea for a post--I think I'm going to have to try this. It is fun to go back and see how those first lines pull you into a novel. No wonder I hate writing the beginning line--too much pressure!

  3. The first line from Ender's Game is amazing to me. I like a lot of those and also noticed that the majority of them are in first person. Sometimes I think that intimacy just helps yank a person right into a story. =D

  4. What a fun idea. And yes, those are all great first lines. I like the dumpster one best. :-)


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