7 Keys to Write the Perfect First Line of a Novel

by Joe Bunting | 373 comments

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Earlier this week, I read “Poppies,” a short story by Ulrica Hume. Initially, I had only planned on skimming a few pages, but the first line hooked me. Before long, I was finishing the last page.

Great first lines have that power, the power to entice your reader enough that it would be unthinkable to set the book down. How, then, do you write the perfect first line?

7 Qualities of the Perfect First Line

This post is about what makes memorable first lines great. We'll look at examples from some of the best books in history and try to apply their techniques to our stories.

Note that some of these lines are a bit longer than one sentence. Instead, I think of them as the first idea.

By the way, if you haven't already read Monica Clark's excellent post about writing the perfect first page, you should read it immediately.

Let's get started, shall we?

1. Perfect First Lines Are Vivid

Here's the line from Ulrica Hume's “Poppies” that caught my attention.

I was born upside down, the umbilical cord looped twice around my neck.

It's a simple sentence, but I love it. “Born upside down.” There's something at once whimsical and perilous and messy about that image. Don't you instantly get a picture of the hospital room, the tiny baby, perhaps with a bit of hair, being held upside down by the doctor, still slightly blue and screaming?

Great first lines instantly invite us into an image.

Here's another vivid example from my favorite novel, All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy:

The candleflame and the image of the candleflame caught in the pierglass twisted and righted when he entered the hall and again when he shut the door.

Isn't that a cool image? The light from a candle being reflected and twisted by a door. One of the reasons so many of Cormac McCarthy's novels have been adapted into films (e.g. All the Pretty Horses, No Country for Old Men, The Road) is that his writing is so cinematic, focusing on seemingly small details to invite us into the lives of his fascinating characters.

Great first lines, like the opening montage of a film, lead us into a scene. They use images, lighting, and tone to set the mood that the rest of the opening pages will take.

2. Perfect First Lines Establish a Unique Voice

We like to hear stories from people who sound interesting and unique, and perfect first lines introduce the reader to a character's unique voice.

Voice is the peculiar vocabulary, tone, and phrasings our characters use. For example, here's a classic example of the first line from Catcher In the Rye by J.D. Salinger:

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.

Notice how conversational this is. All the rules we were taught in school—don't use adverbs like really, don't use slang like lousy, and definitely don't use words like “crap”—Salinger breaks them. And it works because this isn't a school paper; this is one friend talking to another.

The remarkable thing about a unique voice is that it can be just as vivid as description. Don't you instantly get an image of a sarcastic, teenage kid (perhaps wearing a red hunting cap backwards) while reading this? Voice can spark your imagination to create whole worlds.

Speaking of strange worlds, here's J.K. Rowling's first line from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone:

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you'd expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn't hold with such nonsense.

You can just hear the Dursleys saying that huffily, can't you? “Thank you very much. Such Nonsense.” I also think it's fascinating that for such a magical novel, Rowling chose to begin with the least magical people in the whole story, which just increases the contrast between the magic and “muggle” world. Brilliant.

3. Perfect First Lines Are Surprising

This might be the most important tip in this post.

Be surprising. So many of these examples of great first lines are surprising. Case in point, here's the opening line from 1984 by George Orwell:

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

How do you quickly show the world you're describing is slightly off from the real world? Alter the way time is tracked. Genius.

Snakes are an easy way to surprise your reader. Here's the opening line from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:

Once when I was six years old I saw a magnificent picture in a book, called True Stories from Nature, about the primeval forest. It was a picture of a boa constrictor in the act of swallowing an animal. Here is a copy of the drawing.

Nothing like boa constrictors and drawings of boa constrictors to catch your reader's attention.

Here's another example from One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez:

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

Firing squad? Discovering ice? So much strangeness here I couldn't help but read on.

One of the most famous surprising openings, is this line from Leo Tolstoy's classic novel, Anna Karenina:

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

What's surprising here is the assertions about happy versus unhappy families. We aren't sure if it's true, but we'd like to find out. 

And in honor of Christmas, here's Charles Dickens' first line from A Christmas Carol (thanks Magic Violinist for the recommendation):

Marley was dead: to begin with.

Want to create surprise? Apparently you should begin your story with someone dying (as three of our examples do).

4. Perfect First Lines Are Funny

Humor is closely linked with surprise, and great first lines are often very funny. For example, here's a silly image from J.R.R. Tolkien's very funny novel The Hobbit:

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

“And that means comfort.” I love that part. I can imagine Tolkien's four children squealing with delight at this opening line.

And here is Jane Austen exhibiting her slyly satirical wit in the first line of Pride and Prejudice:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Of course he must. How could he not?

5. Perfect First Lines Are True

Some novels begin with a philosophical truth. Take the iconic first line of one of the bestselling books of all time, A Tale of Two Cities:

It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness…

… and so on. It's quite long, so you can read the full line here. This line is so famous that when I first read A Tale of Two Cities I was surprised to realize it came from a book. By now, this line has become a truism, but in its day, it was a philosophical reflection on the subjectivity of history and human experience.

Great first lines can do that. They can take a look at an entire culture as a whole and You can't, of course, stay there forever. Eventually, you have start teaching again. But a little philosophy at the end of a novel doesn't hurt.

6. Perfect First Lines Are Clear

Many great first lines do little more than introduce us to the characters we're going to be following through the book. For example, from Melville's Moby Dick:

Call me Ishmael.

And here's a quick synopsis of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in its first line:

Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. This story is about something that happened to them when they were sent away from London during the war because of the air-raids.

Great first lines are often clear, we instantly know who the narrator is, where we are, and what this story  will be about.

7. Perfect First Lines Contain the Entirety of a Novel

Perfect first lines don't just begin a novel, they someone manage to compact the entire story into a single sentence.

For example, take Kafka's The Metamorphosis: 

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.

You can see Samsa's entire journey, from the realization of his plight to his painful alienation to his eventual death.

Here's another example from Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov:

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.

In this single, perfect sentence Nabokov reveals all the passion, poetry, and disaster that will follow.

Just as William Blake said, “To see the world in a grain of sand,” so the first line of a novel can contain its entirety within it.

How to Write the Perfect First Line

From all these examples, I hope you've seen that perfect first lines take many shapes and forms. In fact, the title of this post is misleading because there is really no such thing as the perfect first line. There is only a perfect first line for your story.

Be patient as you look for it. It might take longer than you think to find it. You may discover it, and then find another, then discard that one for something better still.

Remember, a great first line can hook your reader through the rest of your story. Keep searching for it. It's worth it.

Ready to write the rest of your novel? Check out our definitive guide, How to Write a Novel: The Complete Guide here.

What are your favorite first lines from novels? Let us know in the comments.


Take fifteen minutes to write the first line of a novel or short story.

You can write the first line of your work in progress or something new. Fifteen minutes is plenty of time, so write a few different versions focusing on different qualities from this article and see which version you like best.

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  1. The Cody

    Seriously, I’ve been editing and editing the beginning of my WIP for days. So this post is like a little batch of fate 🙂 I think I’m just too close to the material now and would love a new set of eyes (thanks!):

    Dominic had no idea that, in a few hours, he’d hear a life-changing Old Testament verse, one that would set everything in motion. If someone had told him, claiming they could see the future, he wouldn’t have believed, anyway; the idea of fortune-telling was dumb to Dominic. Instead, he preferred facts and prime numbers.

    • Joe Bunting

      Hey Cody. Glad the timing was right!

      I like your first line! I think you would increase the drama if you trimmed it down and made it clearer though. No pressure, but here’s how I might do it:

      “Dominic liked prime numbers. If someone had told him an Old Testament verse would change his life, he would believe them. Dominic didn’t believe in fortune telling.”

      Or something. I would simplify and clarify your sentences, and remember we don’t know what a Old Testament verse has to do with your story, so unless you’re writing something religious, you might need to clarify.

    • Heather Capewell

      I actually like your last line as a first line, but you’d drop instead. It’s very direct, interesting, and informative. By using preferred, it already has my mind looking for the opposing force that changes. Move some of it around and play with different flows of your sentences. Keep a draft of each one and compare them side by side. You’ll know when you get it. While a writer is never done, you’ll feel that it’s right. Good luck!

    • Margaret Terry

      I like where you are going with this The Cody, but instead of saying “Old Testament verse” I think it would be more intriguing to simply say “he’d hear life changing words that would set everything in motion.” Ease the reader into asking “what words? ” instead of telling us right away they are biblical…

    • The Cody

      Thanks for the feedback, everyone. I’m so glad I posted it and have some new ideas to try out. Wish me luck!

    • Kathy Stevenson

      Hi Cody,

      this seems a little wordy for a first line to me. I think starting with If someone had told him– or, as was already mentioned, using the last line–that might be more powerful.

  2. Heather Capewell

    On average I probably spend almost as much time working my first chapters (first line, hook, clean out info dumps) as I do writing a whole novel. These are some of my current opening lines:

    Human life held value. – from my WIP Beyond the Brothel Walls: Constricted.

    “Your days are numbered …” – from my WIP Immortal Lies (Midgard #2)

    The news blasted across the country: Fires and escaped supes at the Nine Headquarters in Charlestown, South Carolina. -Untitled (Midgard #3)

    I don’t belong in their world, any more than they belong in mine. – from my WIP Crimson Lies

    Every nerve fired, and the hairs on my neck stood straighter than a blade’s edge. – untitled WIP

    • Maria

      Hi, I seriously like the one from the WIP Crimson Lies. pretty catchy, were I to open a book and find that I would surely read it 🙂

    • Dana Schwartz

      Agreed! There is something simple yet very intriguing about it.

    • E. Allen

      The one of Crimson Lies sounds really interesting, I would definitely read more of it. I think the one for Immortal Lies sounds a little cliche, but I love the title, so I would read on anyway.

    • Margaret Terry

      My fav is “I don’t belong in their world, any more than they belong in mine.” Makes me want to know what world – also has a casual conversational tone for such a powerful statement that I’d have to read more…

    • Mirel

      Yup, the Crimson Lies opening line gets my vote as well. Great line!

    • Deborah Wise

      I love your last first line (does that make sense?). It immediately promises action and suspense. “Straighter than a blade’s edge” makes one think of bloody war!

    • Kathy Stevenson

      I agree! That line is very startling and really grabs my attention.

    • themagicviolinist

      I agree with Margaret. That one’s my favorite, too. 🙂

    • Emily Faithe

      I love all of these. Great work. I agree with Margaret that my fav is, “I don’t belong in their world, any more than they belong in mine.”

  3. Maria

    James Edison never liked going to the dentist. He had never thought it nice to have
    someone digging on one´s teeth, but with a badly tooth decay the teenager had
    no other choice. The fourteen year old lied back on the dentist chair and, as
    if his life depended on it, he gripped strongly the arm of it trying to be as
    calm as possible. From under his dirty blond hair his dark blue eyes began peaking,
    spotting the torturing devices at an arm reach. Lying in there were the pointy
    thingy, the rolling filler stuff, and the space luminous revolver – which he considerate highly amusing, as if she was an alien running some weird experiments
    on him. Of course, as always, the radio was on playing an old 80´s tune. “Just
    my luck,” thought James rolling his eyes.

    • Heather Capewell

      Oh geesh he sounds like me at the dentist! I think right away, you’ll hook anyone who isn’t a dentist. Does anyone enjoy the dentist office? I think realism plays a big role too in hooking readers. We want to relate to characters and form the connection as soon as possible. You managed to do it in one line. Good luck!

    • Maria

      Thank you so much 🙂

    • Lois

      I do like going to the dentist but I happen to have a great one. However, I really like how you wrote this, I really feel more like he is in a torture chamber about to get interrogated than in a dentist chair about to have dental work done.

    • Maria

      Thanks 🙂 that was exactly how he was feeling, how I wanted him to feel. He thinks that to be the most horrible in the world, when just in a matter of seconds all his world crumbles when his brother is abducted by some group called the hazed-men.

    • Margaret Terry

      “James Edison never liked going to the dentist” I love this first line. Made me smile and intrigued me. Who is James and why doesn’t he like the dentist? How old is he? Lots of questions but so relate-able as not many like the dentist. Also love the way you used his first and last name. Feels English and charming. Are you from GB?

    • Maria

      Thank you so much you are such a dear, in fact I feel elated. You are first one to quote my writing! I am not British, as matter of fact, I am a 24 year old lawyer to be from the north part of Argentina, a far far away place 🙂

    • Margaret Terry

      well, hello Maria from Argentina – grand to meet you!

    • Winnie

      Who does like visiting the dentist? I think an even better line would be that James loved going to the dentist. Welcome to this site. Some of my favourite writers come from your part of the world!

  4. Dana Schwartz

    I really enjoyed this post! Those are some truly fantastic opening lines.

    Here is the opening line of my novel in progress:

    “When the first buds appeared Alice and her grandmother began their month long vigil watching as the stems lengthened and pointed to the ground like pale green fingers, the edges sprouting tentacles.”

    • Beck Gambill

      That’s a pretty first line. I can see them in the garden, surrounded by bright green, bending tenderly over plants.

    • Dana Schwartz

      Thanks so much Beck 🙂

  5. AlexBrantham

    You have some great first line examples there!

    One thing that I believe a lot of new writers do is to spend far too long trying to come up with the perfect first line, before they do anything else. It’s worth mentioning, I think, that you probably only know what the first line ought to be AFTER you’ve written the first draft.

    Of course, it might be that the line comes to you in a vision, and everything else follows beautifully thereafter – but I suspect that is very much the exception rather than the rule.

    Here are the first lines of my WIP as they stand:

    I shivered on the windy platform, I tried to remember how I’d got into this in
    the first place. Tanya, of course; all roads led to Tanya. The only woman I
    could ever love, dumping me in Starbucks on the day that London burned.

    • Victoria

      Definitely agree that you shouldn’t slave over the first line until you’ve finished the first draft! I’ve found that it often comes much easier afterwards.

      Your first line is intriguing!

    • Adelaide Shaw

      Interesting first few lines. The name Tonya caught my attention. A girl with such a different name just has to be interesting.

    • Eyrline

      Sometime a first line comes to me while reading a book, or just observing the scenery. I find “I shivered,” good enough to continue reading.

    • W. Bailey

      “I shivered…” that opening ticked just about all of my boxes. It starts with the physical, moves to questions of emotion, and a tentative answer: “Tonya”. Then we are dragged back to reality at Starbucks then thrown into, what I suspect, is the real story: “London burned”.

    • oddznns

      You are so right Alex that the perfect first line often comes last. And your image of Tanya dumping him when London burned is wonderful.

    • Joe Bunting

      Great point, Alex! Thanks for mentioning that. 🙂

    • Susan Anderson

      I agree. I also think that this is true about the title of a piece, that we learn what is best, when it’s finished.

    • Giulia Esposito

      Very nice opening.

    • themagicviolinist

      Ooh, nice! 🙂 I love the line “all roads led to Tanya”. Already I’m hooked!

    • Kathy Stevenson

      I love this! Being dumped in Starbucks is unusual enough, but while London burned? I want to know more!
      Here’s my attempt

      The water pounded his head ferociously, threatening to split
      his skull down the middle to reveal and penetrate his vulnerable brain. He
      jumped to the right and found himself completely drenched, still breathing,
      head still stinging.

    • jaz

      i love it! i want to know more!

    • Jamie

      As a new writer who has been trying to come up with the perfect first line for over a week now, I completely agree with that first statement. 😉

    • Alisson Roussel

      I do find this intriguing and interesting. I do want to read more…

    • AlexBrantham

      Glad you like it. Published as “One Equal Temper”, available in all good ebook stores!

    • Nancy

      Love it. Grabbed my attention. I would keep reading story for sure!

  6. Beck Gambill

    “She was coming home. I sat on the porch, feeling
    stirred up and restless, straining my eyes for a glimpse of her car.” From my work in progress, Sisters.

    This was a great post. I’ve worked and reworked my opening paragraph, now that the bulk of my story is written I probably should write those first lines again in light of the whole story.

    I’ve been reading A Christmas Carol this past week. I love the first lines. The description and power of Dickens words always lights a fire in me!

  7. Jordan

    I had a short story published last year and I received several compliments on my first line:

    “The scar wasn’t extraordinary.”

    • Joe Bunting

      Ooo I like that one, Jordan.

    • Margaret Terry

      yes, I can see why it was selected – great first line! Better than great…

    • Eyrline

      A very simple first line, with a lot of depth.

    • Adelaide Shaw

      Good beginning. I can think of many questions I want answered and would want to read on to find out.

    • oddznns

      This is nice Jordan. It raises so many questions.

    • Mirel

      I can see why, good line!

  8. Lois

    “I don’t suppose life really is about the rough patches we go through, but how we survived them and the joy that followed. Despite that, I always seem to remember the bad before the good. Us humans are kind of funny like that, always trying to look at the gloomy side of things when the bright side is just around the corner. As I look back on my life I realize that if I had just looked at the bright side more often I probably would have had a far happier life.”

    • Victoria

      I like how this starts in a conversational manner. I felt pulled in at once.

    • Lois

      Thanks. 🙂

    • Margaret Terry

      I like your conversational tone here, Lois and the way you say “I don’t suppose…” but I might end the first sentence before the “but”. It feels like you are telling us too much to start. Let the reader ponder what you are saying about “the rough patches” before you tell us what life is really about. Just a thought!

    • Lois

      Looking at that I think you’re right. Thanks. It’s really helpful to have someone’s eyes to look at my writing. 🙂

  9. Victoria

    Perfect first pages and perfect first lines … I’m enjoying these topics!

    From a short story I’ve written:
    “Some days it struck him hard.”

    And from my WIP:
    “Not yet.
    Those were the first two words that thudded into my
    brain and stuck there. It was no wonder I had run away from my career four
    years ago with that kind of reaction to a new baby.”

    • Margaret Terry

      I like the “Not yet.” alone. It’s bold and a strong statement. If something follows it, I think it should be a shock since the reader is asking “what not yet?” If it’s about returning to work as your next sentence implies, perhaps start a new paragraph after the first sentence with something as simple like “I am not going to get a job.”

    • Victoria

      Thanks for the feedback!

  10. Sarah Hood

    Here’s a few from some of my short stories…

    “Ten minutes early and Scott already felt out of place. His eyes drifted around the classroom, taking in the rows of tables and mostly unoccupied chairs. At the front, a plastic skeleton grinned, staring through empty eye sockets.”

    “These things aren’t ghosts. They couldn’t be. Killers, yes. But ghosts? Every
    rational adult knows ghosts aren’t real. Right?”

    “Blank eyes stared unseeing through the thatched roof. Anmar gazed upon them, upon the body to which they belonged. Skin stretched over bones—weathered but pale, dry as every wadi in this forsaken place. The cheeks sagged. The head looked too large for the body, which lay even stiller now that it was no longer breathing.”

    “The first rays of morning crept through the windows. An icy stillness hung over this hall in the high priest’s palace, broken only by the pat-pat-pat of sandals
    pounding the floor.”

    And my personal favorite: “For 2,300 years I slept.”

    • Margaret Terry

      The last one is my favorite too. I’d have to keep reading to check it out…

    • Deborah Wise

      I love the last ‘first line’. Very Rip Van Winklish!

  11. W. Bailey

    An opening to my in progress novel:

    I went to bed and woke up a long time ago. If this
    had not happened to me, and if I did not have tangible physical
    evidence, I would not believe my own story.

    Any thoughts?

    • Mirel

      I like the first line, it’s intriguing. I would rework the second line although I like the bit about the tangible physical evidence. Maybe make it more concise.

    • W. Bailey

      Thanks for the input. The second line

      is my attempt to draw the disbelieving reader in and give that reader cause to doubt that disbelief with the mention of evidence. I do tend to be wordy and need to cut some of the overwork/over-think. Thanks for pointing this out for me and will take it to heart.

  12. Margaret Terry

    This was such fun to read, Joe. I LOVE first lines! In fact I read the first line in novels before I read the back copy or endorsements. You have given a few of my favs (Catcher in the Rye for sure) but the one I recall the quickest when anyone asks me for BEST first lines is from Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth: “The small boys came early to the hanging.” I just finished a wonderful book that is in the league of great first lines as well – here’s the line: “The letter that would change everything arrived on a Tuesday.” from The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

    And here’s mine from a WIP: “I think I lost God the same year I lost my virginity.”

    • Adelaide Shaw

      Now I want to know how the heroine lost God and her virginity. Is one connected with the other?

    • Margaret Terry

      Yes they are connected, thx for asking!

    • themagicviolinist

      I agree with Adelaide! 🙂 I was about to ask if the two were connected when I saw her comment.

  13. E. Allen

    I was recently looking to write some opening lines so this came at the perfect time for me. Here are two I wrote recently.

    The girl woke up confused as to who and where she was. – From my WIP Sanmalari

    August wasn’t dead? – From my WIP Discharging Augst

    • themagicviolinist

      I like “August wasn’t dead?”. 🙂 The first line could use some work, I think, as it’s a little generic. A lot of books open up similarly to yours. Maybe personalize it a little? Make it more unique? Just some ideas. 🙂

  14. Xavier

    I don’t suppose the best way to get a date is by showing up at the girl’s doorstep naked.
    I made that line for a possible story about a prfound old Englishman rediscovering his days at the university.

    • Adelaide Shaw

      You’ve got my attention. A naked man at my doorstep! What happens when she open the door? I certainly would read on.

    • Xavier

      Haha thank you. This flashback could get insteresting!

    • Mirel

      Well, that certainly is a catching sentence!

  15. Janey Egerton

    You already named two of my all-time favourites (Harry Potter and 100 Years), but the 2-cities one is one I don’t get. It is too long. Perhaps I’m wrongly wired, but it had the contrary effect on me: it does make me want to not read on 🙁

    Generally, I think that García Márquez is the one and only true Master of first lines and first pages. Here’s his first Love-in-the-Time-of-Cholera line:

    “It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.”

    Other ones I like:

    Simon Becket, The Chemistry of Death:
    “A human body starts to decompose four minutes after death. Once the encapsulation of life, it now undergoes its final metamorphoses.”

    Hugh Laurie, The Gun Seller:
    “Imagine that you have to break someone’s arm.”

  16. Eyrline

    Who am I, and how, I wonder, will this story end?
    This is the first line of Nicholas Sparks, THE NOTEBOOK..A first line I might use is for a short story or novel:

    I was born dead,

    my father was asked by the doctor who he wanted to save,

    me or my mother and he, of course, chose Mother,

    as they could have another child,

    but he could not find another woman

    he could love as much as he did her.

    Or I could just start with:
    I was born dead.

    • oddznns

      This is intriguing Eyrline. More?

    • Eyrline

      Thanks. This is my first try here.

    • Victoria

      I think you should just start with “I was born dead.” You can tell the rest of it later on. It’s a good line!

    • Susan Anderson

      I agree.

    • Eyrline

      Thank you, Victoria and Susan.

    • Eyrline

      Victoria, I’m sorry I’m late answering. Thank you for your advice on the first line. I’ve been ill off and on for the past year and a half and can just now get up alone. I hope to be regular, but I have to share the computer with a computer geek (my wonderful husband), so some days I can’t get online.

    • Mirel

      I agree with Victoria.

    • E. Allen

      I was born dead is an excellent line. It caught my eye as I was scrolling down.

    • themagicviolinist

      This was great! I actually think you should keep the whole thing in (though you should have a period after “I was born dead”).

  17. Adelaide Shaw

    Great list of first lines.

    Here are four opening lines from stories which I have had published.

    Frank didn’t want to hold his granddaughter. Doreen pushed the baby,
    15 pounds of soft flesh smelling of dried spit-up milk and soiled diaper, into
    his arms. He didn’t want his daughter here in his house, in his town even.

    Jacob ran into the woods to escape the torments of the village children. “Dirty beggar,” they called. “Cripple

    Rose’s mouth is set in a grim line. Her sour face, the one she used when she disapproved of my behavior as a child, the one she shows to Timmy and Tessa, my seven year old twins, the face that looks set in stone

    The police reached Larry’s cabin three days after the murders

  18. Winnie

    Here’s my beginning to a time travel story.
    That was the week Cale Collins lost a Monday.

    • Joe Bunting

      Ha! I like that. Very surprising. 🙂

    • Winnie

      Thanks every one.

    • Susan Anderson

      Cool. It would be nice to lose a Monday.

    • themagicviolinist

      Ha ha! This made me smile. 🙂 I’d definitely keep reading.

    • Tiffany

      Love it!

    • Winnie

      Thanks Tiffany. I’ll have to take another look at the story that goes with it. Beyond entering it in a competition it was never submitted for publication.

    • Miss Cellany

      Very good – startling enough to make a reader curious as to what is meant by it.

    • Nessa

      Wow, intriguing start, made me smile 😉

    • Leon Webb

      Im new here and your opening line is great and similiar to mine in a way. Keep posting and so will I. Also if you or anyone else has any crits for my post please do id really love to hear it as well as anything else share your knowledge.

      Thanks again everyone


    • Embers

      Very good. Definitely grabs your attention.

  19. Susan Anderson

    Oh my gosh! I actually started an essay with the line, “I was born upside down.” But here I go, let me finish ‘my’ take on a beautiful true story:
    I realized that I am intelligent, rather late in life. Pregnant with my fifth child, the midwife asked of my history, what my mother’s birth experience was like with me. Certainly, every mother recounts her birth experience to her children, as like a soldier’s personal war story. It is a tale that makes my mother proud. It is my origin. I recounted, “I was born breach, rear end first.” The midwife hummed, “Interesting.” Intrigued, I wanted to know why she thought so. “Breach babies are intelligent. When the mother is under stress, this baby senses it and stays close to the mother’s heart. She refuses to turn, upside down.”

    • Victoria

      I love that!

  20. R.w. Foster

    My first line is hard to isolate, so here’s my unedited first paragraph:


    Sweat flew through the air in time to the rhythmic slap of the rope against the floor. Though she stared at the gym mirror, Sera Blake did not register the frizz of her soaked curly brown hair, the flush of her skin, nor the ripple of well-defined muscles exposed by the navy sport bra and training shorts. Her focus was on her upcoming match against Broderick Stevenson, star lacrosse player at Johns-Hopkins University. He was a formidable opponent: Currently at ninety-five wins, two losses, and three decisions. Of his victories, ninety were by knockout. She didn’t care about his record too much. The more important thing was his reach. At eighty-four inches, she would have to get in close. He hadn’t won a match by submission since the early days of his career, so she figured that was the strategy to employ. Still, it wouldn’t do to underestimate him.

    • Mirel

      OK, maybe I’m too literal, but I’m distracted by the idea of sweat flying through the air in time to something…

      I think I would pare down the first paragraph to grab the reader’s interest. I think a large block of writing in the first paragraph can be off-putting, especially when the details might be obscure to someone who is not familiar with lacrosse.

      Also, is she really 84 inches? That would mean she’s 7 foot tall! If you meant that HE was 84 inches, then it should be: At 84 inches, he would be hard to get close to. (or whatever).

      In general, I think that rather than starting out with what she looks like, I think it’s more important to start out with something to let us connect with Sera so that we care…

    • R.w. Foster

      Ever sweat real hard during a workout, and it just rolls down your body? Switch the activity to jumping rope, and you get what I was going for (I hope).

      The 84 inches is his reach. The previous sentence was meant to set this up: “The more important thing was his reach.” This is how far out from his body he can punch. I’m 6′ with a 72 inch reach.

      Hope this helps. 🙂

    • Mirel

      Thanks for. The explanation. Part of what I wasn’t explaining properly was that I think grammatically, the noun following the “At 84 inches” should refer back to what possesses the 84 inches. Were it his height, the pronoun should be “his”, if it’s his reach it should be “it”. Either way, she is wrong here.

      The other point Is that unless your target audience is limited to lacrosse players, I would open with something to draw a broader audience in. It’s legitimate to pique someone’s curiosity to draw someone in, I don’t think that talking about details of a non major sport is the way to do it. I’m not saying not to use this, I just don’t know about opening with it.

      Of course, it’s only my opinion. What do other non-lacrosse mavens think?

    • R.w. Foster

      Lacrosse? I just mentioned that to indicate what Stevenson is famous at JHU for. She’s thinking about an underground MMA fight. That’s why the talk of knockouts and submissions.

      Say, Joe: Would you take a look at my practice and tell me if you have difficulties with it? Especially the type Mirel is having?

    • Elise Martel

      Line 1 I liked. Action.
      However, describing her appearance right off the bat (including hair color, clothing color) was a little distracting to me. Frankly, it doesn’t really matter to me in sentence 2 of a first paragraph what Sera looks like (unless that has great significance to the story).
      It would make more sense to me if you wrote something more like this: Sweat flew through the air in time to the rhythmic slap of the rope
      against the floor. Though she stared intently at the gym mirror, Sera Blake did
      not register her own reflection.
      When you write that Stevenson is a lacrosse player, I get confused, since I assumed this was about jump rope. May just write that he is an all star athlete at Johns-Hopkins? And to someone who knows utterly nothing about jump rope, the technical language was confusing.
      I do think that your piece has great potential. Maybe you just put too much information all in the first paragraph. I don’t think that most opponents will list all the wins, inches, match-type winning, etc right away. She’s probably rehearsing her routine over his all star career highlights. Unless she has a special reason to know all this.

    • R.w. Foster

      She does. She mentally going over his underground fighting stats because she’s preparing to fight him. The jumping rope is her excercise while she’s thinking. I guess I should put more of that in. I thought most folks would realize knockouts weren’t part of lacrosse.

  21. Andre Cruz

    It is so important for your story to engage with your reader at the very first sentence. You have to tell them immediately why your story is worth their time. Great article, Joe!

  22. Lisa Agosti

    “She was nicknamed The Graveyard” is my favorite opening line, from “One hundred names” by Cecelia Ahern.
    I bought the e-book as soon as it was published, I sat down in my comfy chair with a huge cup of green tea (no more coffee for my ulcerous stomach.. sigh) and I knew I would love the novel as I love all of her books.
    When I read “She was nicknames The Graveyard” I felt a rush of anger swelling inside me. Why? Why? Why hadn’t I thought of that first line first? I want to be the one who wrote that! It’s not fair…

  23. Mirel

    Great article, Joe. Thanks for the insight.

    The first paragraph of my WIP:

    Her eyes reflected pools of pain and sadness. They distracted one from
    the perfect symmetry of her features and the sensuous call of her long, wavy
    hair blowing in the wind. When she approached, people would look the other way, afraid of catching her pain. Afraid of having it echo within them, reawakening their own sorrows. Afraid of drowning within her pools.

  24. nancy

    It took me two years to find my first line for a thriller set in Africa about side effects from malaria prophylaxis: “Even the mosquitos were killers, a silent threat that struck in the dimmest of light when no one was looking.”

  25. Jaclyn

    Her fiery red hair, and her lilac scent invaded my dreams every night. Driving me to the dead edges of my sanity. And every time I woke, her name was on my tongue. Lila. Before my eyes open again, I witnessed her crumple to the burning street again. Dead.

    My fault.

    • Giulia Esposito

      Nice Jaclyn! You have me hooked with that opening.

    • Jaclyn

      Thank you!

    • themagicviolinist

      Intriguing! 🙂 I think if you rearranged it a little, though, it could be even tighter. Here’s how I would do it:

      “She drove me to the dead edges of my sanity. She invaded my dreams every night. And every time I woke, her name was on my tongue. Lila. Before my eyes open again, I witness her crumple to the burning street again. Dead.

      My fault.”

    • Jaclyn

      Thanks for the input, I’ll see how it matches up to the chapter. 🙂

  26. Claire

    Excellent post, Joe. You share the same thoughts as Stephen King in regard to why a good first sentence truly matters.

    In this case, my exercise would be the following: Evil is a woman. Particularly in this case, if you look closely. The reflection in the mirror revealed Thais as she flashed a self-satisfied smirk before heading out the door.

    • James Hall

      Reminds me of “Hell has no fury like a woman scorned.”

      How is your writing coming along, Claire? It has been a while!

    • Claire

      Sorry for the delay in replying, James. I haven’t been at the computer much lately, and my writing has come to a standstill at this time since I’m taking care of other priorities. Hopefully, I’ll get back on track soon.

    • James Hall

      There is no time like the present. I hope you get back to writing soon.

      I started a writers group. We meet biweekly on skype calls. It has kept me motivated. You can find us here https://www.facebook.com/groups/SkyWrite/

    • Katie Hamer

      Claire, how are you? I’d love to hear from you. *share some stories, observations of life etc*

      I am also part of the Sky Writers’ group that James Hall mentioned below. It would be awesome to have you join 🙂

      Katie xoxox

  27. Deborah Wise

    In my opinion, Mary Stewart, author of “The Moon Spinners” is the master of wonderful first lines, and the first line of the work in question is one of the most evocative: “It was the egret, flying out of the lemon grove, that started it.”

    The first line of my WIP was very unmemorable, and I agonized over it for months, until one day it simply came to me: “They met by chance, the first time, on a late summer’s evening, beside the Pool of the Nymph.”

  28. themagicviolinist

    Great first lines. 🙂 I especially love the one from A Tale of Two Cities.

    Here’s one from my MG fantasy story: “There is no ‘once upon a time’ in this book. That’s how a fairytale starts. And this is not a fairytale.”

    And from my YA dystopian: My day started and ended with Blue.

    • Michael Marsh

      I like both of these. They both set a mood and form questions in my mind. I would lose the “and” in the first one. “This is not a fairy tale.” sounds even more serious without it.

    • themagicviolinist

      Thanks for your input! 🙂

  29. Michael Marsh

    The image of the turquoise water of Cabo San Lucas faded with the dream
    as Random felt the firmness of the mattress under him and Essie’s soft breath
    on the side of his face.

    Why Mexico, now?

    The whisper of car tires on the street and gentle rhythm of Essie’s breaths moved him back toward memories of that crazy trip. Seemed like another life—somebody else’s life.

  30. Kente Najee

    this article is very helpful i have a better understanding of a good first line for my story i feel more ready to start practicing my opening lines but i have no idea where to start really but this gives me a idea of what i should try to capture in my first lines to hook the reader where they will keep reading :). I will keep trying to write my book and never give up.

  31. Kathryn

    Here’s what I’m kicking around for my current WIP.

    The town was burning. No one was left. Clara was dead.

    And somewhere…the boys were laughing.

    • Samantha Vick

      I’m intrigued be this sentence. There is this feeling of desolation in it that is intense yet easy on the eyes ears. I want to know how this person’s world came to this. Who the heck are these boys! This is the start of something good

    • Kathryn

      Thank you, Samantha!

    • Kathy Stevenson

      That is very direct and intriguing. I get the idea someone with tremendous bluntness is telling the story!

  32. wodkehawkinson

    These are all fantastic. Not just the ones in the article, which are wonderful examples, but the ones in the comments, too. It sounds like my co-author and I need to give more attention to our opening lines!

  33. Chautona

    Great options for first lines there, but I have to admit, I’m sorry you missed my favorite. I don’t think a better first line than, “There was once a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it” has ever been penned. C.S. Lewis was a master of divine description with few words.

    • Joe Bunting

      Great example, Chautona, and a great novel!

    • Elise Martel

      I love the Voyage of the Dawn Treader! C.S. Lewis is such a literary giant.

    • Mel

      I literally just commented about that quote!! Nice to find some other Narnians 🙂

  34. Cynthia Enuton

    Hi, I don’t know if there is a rule about this but I started my WIP in dialouge:
    “Papa, no! Put me down.” Billy pleaded. “I ain’t crazy…I don’t wanna go!”
    The boy hung over the man’s shoulder, slapping his back like a bongo drum. He kicked his feet as he grabbed in desperation to latch onto something…anything. Clutching briefly onto his bedroom doorknob, he watched it slide from his hands in slow motion.

  35. Fred

    I enjoyed your article. I just published a legal thriller, Partnership of Crime, which begins:
    My dream of becoming a lawyer, fueled by my desire to help others, is being shattered before it can even take form. Failure is a demanding master and I feel like the ruined clay on the potter’s wheel.

  36. Khanh Nguyen

    This came to me in the fraction if the a second that the lights I hit the switch to came on. Completely random, came in the most unexpected way. Here it is.

    – I turned on the lights, yet it seems to cast a darkness over the room.

    This is the rest.

    – I turned on the lights, yet it seems to cast a darkness over the room. It seems as if the room was brighter when the light was off. As if the light highlighted just how dark the room was before, that it was dark enough that we had to turn on the light.

    • Elise Martel

      Dark room, dingy light. I wished that I hadn’t flipped the switch.
      Okay, what comes next?

  37. Betsey Heffron

    I’d lived here my whole life hadn’t I? Isn’t this the place where I felt safe and warm on the coldest and saddest of days of my youth. The place where the best things and greatest accomplishments had been shared and congratulated?

    As I stood in my parents kitchen, whose walls if they could speak, would reveal my place here. I couldn’t help but feel lost. This was where I had always been able to find myself but today…nothing.

  38. Alicia Rades

    (Longer than one line, but this is what I came up with.)

    I’m in a wedding dress. Why am I in a wedding dress? I hate weddings. Certainly I wouldn’t be caught dead in a wedding dress.

    • Elise Martel

      Maybe I’m dead. That must be it. Otherwise, my mother and grandmother must have pooled their resources and gotten me a secret brain rewiring. A rewiring that forced me to put this dress on. But I still hate it.
      I just had to finish the paragraph:) Intrigued.

  39. Tammy Murray

    First line of my current WIP:

    The fuzzy black stub of a tail wiggled with excitement as the young dog squirmed under the brush to get to the boy hiding there.

    Feed back welcome. 🙂

    • Elise Martel

      I would maybe change young dog to puppy? Unless the dog isn’t a puppy. You just had a lot of adjectives. But I do like the sentence:)

    • Tammy Murray

      Thanks Elise. He’s less than a year old, so technically he is a puppy, but the level of training he is at needs to suggest more maturity than the word puppy conjures. 🙂

  40. Elise Martel

    The naked mole rat and I share two commonalities. Neither of them have anything to do with clothing.

  41. Chloee

    I stared at the burning house. The flames licked the walls. Smoke rolled in the air the sick smell filling my lungs. The heat stinging my face. Beads of sweat rolled down my face. The orange, red, and yellow colors melted across the walls taunting me. I bit my lip to hold in the fear. I wanted to scream out in hopefulness someone would come and save me from this nightmare. My body stinged from inhaling the smoke sharp pain pushed though my body. My long red hair clung to my head from the heat. My body felt heavy. My eyes tried to stay open but the need for sleep, for safety, for release was too much. My eyes started to close when I heard a voice whisper in my ear.All good things must come to an end.

  42. ablessedcurse

    I can’t decide which I like better. Please tell me.
    I woke up June 21st to a “normal” morning on a “normal” day without the knowledge that my life would instantly be flipped upside down quicker than you can snap (if you can snap that is).
    First imagine everything beautiful, things you like, and things around you. Now in agin everything ugly, awful, and scary. Imagine everything you love has been changed to something else. You know what it is like in 2073.

    • Victoria

      Definitely the second!

  43. Emi

    My name is Riley
    Irene Plumber, my initials were RIP, rest in peace, it usually stands for
    however, my name while ironic on a daily basis, was none more so than April 17,
    as this was the day that began the rest of my life rather than the end, as I had
    initially thought.

    the beginning to my novel I have been working on for several years now.

    • deziree

      Hi :>
      I think the line is a bit too long and wordy, maybe try with something more concise, more to the point? It sounds like Irene Plumber dies on that day, so what about something that concludes with that ?

  44. Cherri Davidson

    Our mission was not supposed to end with me choking to death.

  45. Pete Maguire

    My first line. “In
    18 minutes time I will go and lie on the railway track at Garelt. I will wait
    for the 00:13 D-Train to come around the Garelt bend and 12 seconds after
    sighting it, it will reach my head. You don’t know it yet, Victor, but I’m
    doing this for you, my son. “

    • Rachel Writer

      This gave me goosebumps

    • SamV

      Love it

  46. Steve Martinez

    The earth trembled
    under the gaze of the blood red moon with the muffled screams of the man below.

  47. Nightshade

    This is extremely helpful, though I have a first line that was missed, it’s one of my personal favorite first lines. From Star Wars: Force Unleased by Sean Williams:

    “The life of Darth Vader’s secret student took a strange and deadly turn the day his Master first spoke of General Rahm Kota.”

  48. Bailey :)

    Here’s the first line of my little Post-Apocalyptic dystopian… thing. 😛
    “Dot your ‘I’s, cross your ‘T’s”; that’s what they tell you at the beginning of the end of your life.

    • SamV

      ooo this is fab

  49. Bailey :)

    Here is the first line of my most recent WIP.
    If you’re reading this, know that there are no happy endings. Not in the world I’m about to take you to.

    • Violet Azure

      I love the way this line just took me in and made me want to read more. Amazing line.

    • Nancy

      Awesome. It drew me in instantly. Not sure I want to see this world, but I’m already hooked and can’t turn away! Great job!

  50. North

    I’m writing a YA fantasy novel and need some critique on my first line:

    I know I’m dreaming when I see the bird for the third time this week.

    I don’t know about this line and am re-writing the first chapter.

    • Victoria

      I like it. It makes me want to read the next line to find out 1) what bird you’ve seen three times in a week and 2) why you think it’s strange that you’ve seen it three times.

    • Sandra D

      Oh that is very interesting to me.

    • Bella

      i think its a really really good kind of general line, but i think it sounds better like this: that moment when the (description, for example little, blue, etc) bird appeared for the third time this week was the moment i knew i was dreaming.

  51. Cookie_pie

    Here’s mine, don’t pull any punches 😀

    A young man with long blond hair was sitting in a smoky room, back against the wall. One thought was racing through his mind: “We ain’t even the same blood”. His ribs were still hurtin’ from last night. But he though to himself, he didn’t look half as bad as the old man did.

    • Ibugg

      The usage of ‘hurtin’ is really condescending I think. Give the reader a chance to discover speech patterns instead of shoving it in their face.

  52. Mandy Lana

    I would appreciate your opinions and suggestions in re of my introduction.

    “Silence has never been as loud as tonight. Confusion has never been as clear. Doubt has never been as certain. If only Racky’s thoughts can speak, they will scream. There is a storm inside her by which you can’t hear the thunder, but you can see the lightning once in a while brewing in her eyes as vicious as the explosion that can be triggered by the collision of a single gram of anti-matter to an object.”

    It’s my first time writing a story.

  53. Sofie

    It wasn’t until the age of six when I had realized my ears had a function.

    Thoughts? Any feedback would be great.

    • Jamie

      I really like this! It makes me want to find out what she considers to be the ‘function of her ears’, because I already know its not going to be the standard ‘ears are for listening’ thing.

  54. Jamie

    Here’s the beginning for my book, Shadows of the Hiddnen (WIP)

    I’d tell you I’m sorry, but that would be a lie.

    • Mel

      I like them both 🙂

  55. Yusuf

    I was wondering if this is a good opening line for a short story about love.

    She stared into the darkness. She wished that Cameron would be there, telling her not to be afraid and shelter her with his warmth.

  56. jaz

    is my first line any good?

    It was the last day of summer, well as much of a
    ‘summer’ as you can get in Britain. Silver woke up late, as usual, and only had
    thirty minutes get ready and pack the rest of her belongings.

  57. jaz

    is my first line any good?

    It was the last day of summer, well as much of a
    ‘summer’ as you can get in Britain. Silver woke up late, as usual, and only had
    thirty minutes get ready and pack the rest of her belongings.

    • Sandra D

      It’s descent. I’d need to read the next few paragraphs to get a solid feel of it I think.

    • Sophie

      I like the idea but maybe you could mention what part of Britain. I think it might sound even better like this:
      It was the last of summer (as much of a “summer” as one could get in Britain anyway) and Silver woke with practiced tardiness. She only had thirty minuted to pack the rest of her belongings.

    • Oseremen A.

      Here’s mine:

      It was a dark, dreary morning and the neighbour was practicing scream therapy in his shower.

    • Ciaran Mealer

      That’s awesome. It’s dark and humorous, love it.

  58. Sandra D

    “‘Thinner,’ the old Gypsy man with the rotting nose whispers to William Halleck as Halleck and his wife, Heidi, come out of the courthouse.” ~ Thinner by Stephen King

  59. Cailey

    I’ve been stewing over a few book ideas, but I just started thinking about writing the one that i’ve been working on more as of recently. Here is the first paragraph:

    In this world, how you’re born can either make or break you. If you start to cry as soon as the Light hits you, automatically healthy. Silent? Then the Shadows take you. Either that, or your left on the doorstep of some orphanage, dying before you’ve even begun to live. Personally, I don’t know which one is worse, kill or be killed.

    • Sophie

      I love it it really makes you want to find out what the Light and Shadows are (why are they capitalized? are they people?) and it has great voice, but I don’t think you need the kill or be killed part it’s a bit cliche.

  60. Rose

    They were eating dinner. A mom, a dad, a sullen boy, and a little girl in a high chair.

  61. Savvy

    Awesome article. Here’s the first line for my WIP.

    “The sky was once freckled with stars my boy” yelled Nathan as he pointed to the sky. -WIP: Trigger of the Sun

  62. Angie

    My first line:
    It was a Monday in the middle of August my dad told me I wasn’t really a princess.

  63. J.D. Rand

    “Religion had a name for this
    place, back when people were still alive to worship their choice of
    religion; or so I believed, given that my last, first and only memory
    left me with the impression that I had just brought the whole world
    to a violent and terrifying end.”


  64. Kyle Munkeysocks Mason

    Love these first lines. Inspiring.

  65. Hades

    Wondering if my action-fantasy first line is too….
    “When the jagged shards of shrapnel ricocheted towards her wings, the first thing that popped into Mei’s head was “Damn, I should’ve stayed in bed today.”

  66. Sara

    My opening line for a book I’ve been trying to write for a year:

    My best friend is a planet. Mars, to be exact. Maybe we’re friends because neither of us go by our real names. Maybe it’s because we were pointed towards each other so intensely that the only possible outcomes were to fall in love or despise each other, and both of us decided for the former because the only good use for enemies is a good fight, and fights are only good if you’re evil or really, really passionate about something.

    • Miss Origin

      It’s certainly a very interesting line.

    • Emily Faithe

      May I offer a re-working? Hope I’m not overstepping, but I LOVE where you’re going with this, it’s just a little busy.

      “My best friend is a planet – Mars to be exact. We were pointed at each other so intensely that the only possible outcomes were to fall in love or despise each other. The only use for an enemy is to have a good fight, and the only use for a fight is to express passion. Love and hate are similar like that.”

  67. Sarah

    Thank you by your help I made my short novel once again thanks

  68. em234

    How about

    It was a warm sunny day in New York. The birds were singing, the hotdogs were selling, and even the smog seemed to enjoy the weather. Which is probably why everything went horribly wrong.

  69. Jan Flynn-White

    Very nice community you have, Joe. Thanks for the ebook! Here’s the beginning of my current WIP. Thanks for any advice you can give.
    She ran her fingers across the top of the wooden doorframe and found the spare key.
    The house smelled of lemon-polished wood floors and dried lavender with a ghostly hint of warm ginger-snaps fresh out of the oven.
    Maybe it won’t be so bad after all.

  70. 18&Writing

    Here is my first line of a series I’m going to start writing:
    Getting shot is something I don’t think I’ll ever get used to. It’s like a kick to the chest as all the air vanishes from the lungs. It truly is a horrible way to return to reality from a long dream’s work.
    I welcome critiques 🙂

    • Landon Lacey

      The idea is there for sure, but you could try rewording it to make it more effective, for example: “Getting shot doesn’t become any less painful after four previous ones.” Something along those lines.

    • 18&Writing

      Thanks for your advice!

  71. Krystal

    I know its a little late to join this conversation but I was scrolling through the comments and couldn’t help but share my first line.

    I started to regret my decision the moment we stepped foot into the cave.

  72. Landon Lacey

    “In a neighborhood vacant of tragedy, a strange man stands at my doorstep—claiming to be my father.”

    I need this to be more intriguing. Often times friends aren’t the best source for unbiased opinions.

  73. bella

    i wrote a book and the opening like is: i dreamt of you last night.

  74. Landon Lacey

    This isn’t my line, but it’s one that has inspired me to put some real effort into the first line.

    “I remember it hurt, watching her hurt.”
    From the movie “Stuck In Love” starring Greg Kinnear, Lily Collins, and Nat Wolf
    (I highly recommend it)

  75. Landon Lacey

    I’ve also considered:
    “In a tiny suburban neighborhood vacant of tragedy and organized crime,
    a dying man lays at my doorstep—claiming he’s my father.”

  76. Christiana B.

    I began my novel like this: “You know your new classmate isn’t quite normal when she changes schools in eight grade.”

    • Landon Lacey

      What is so odd about moving schools in the eighth grade? I’d consider a rewrite.

  77. Seven

    I love writing first lines, even without writing the rest of the novel, so I’ll take a shot:
    “Whenever Alfix did anything, it was done with the sort of practised impatience one achieves when one is surrounded by morons: and I loved it.”

  78. Grace

    Here is my first beginning to a love thriller. It was a cold, raining, windy night. Sarah and John were planning on meeting at the cabin up at Meadow Lake. John’s wife found out and started to drive up towards the mountain. John had just pulled up.

    While Sarah was waiting inside the lodge, she heard on the news that a murderer has escaped from the prison by them. The cabin door opened slightly with a loud squeeky hallow noise. As she turned around she noticed that it was not John. Sarah, began to panic and she was in disbelief.

  79. Rachel

    This is for my YA novel. Critique?

    I had been here five minutes and I already detested Windrow High School.

    The bright red and gold lockers made me feel like I was on the set of High School Musical. There were pencils, papers, and trash scattered around the hall and old gum adorning the fronts of lockers and walls. As I passed open doors, teachers voices echoed into the hallways and my shoes squeaked against the linoleum floor. The whole school smelt faintly of spoiled milk.

    Windrow isn’t that bad. It probably looks like every other school in the state. But, it’s not New York, so I hate it.

  80. Christy Nicholas

    I’m new to the writing biz. I’ve written three novels in a series – and my publisher is already interested. However, I’m trying to nail the first lines. The first one starts:

    Middlebranch, Ohio
    March 20, 1846

    Valentia McDowell was heartily bored of the humdrum life on her father’s farm. She craved the adventure of her Grandmamma’s stories from Ireland’s mystical past, and was determined to find it. With that in mind, she approached her mother about her long overdue need for a husband.

  81. Hi

    “Seeing the two of them standing there, something broke inside me.”

  82. Hailey

    Sophisticated was the word, the story of my life. Or at least that’s what my mother loved to believe.

  83. Miss Origin

    How’s this for a story about short-term memory loss?

    is the story of how I forgot how to remember, and how I went about getting that
    ability back again.

    • Mackenzie Cole

      I really like that, it is something that, if I saw it on the first page, I would smile and continue reading, eager to discover this story.

  84. Kyle

    This is the opening or blurb to my novel:

    The Ebonlocke family were no ordinary family.

    They were miles away from ordinary.

    They owned the land.

    They created the laws.

    And if you broke them.

    You would pay.

  85. SamV

    This is the beginning to my story:

    As the sun dipped below the waves the sky seemed to come alive with vibrant reds and fiery magentas entwining themselves as they danced on tiptoe across the ocean top.

  86. Emily

    I’m somewhat….. wait no, A COMPLETE noob. I have, what I believe to be, a great concept, and a very detailed main character along with multiple other deeply detailed ideas of characters.
    here are some of my ideas for my first line:

    Let’s get one thing straight; I didn’t want any of this.

    The time was precisely green. It was noon on Solstice Island; but hey, who was I to tell the sole destroyers of the earth’s surface that their concept of time was completely insane.

    The cracked, crumbling concrete, that resided on the bottom of that giant steel box, pissed me off.

    give me some feedback, and maybe some advice as to how i can actually form my ideas into a short story and or novel. Greatly appreciated!!!

    • Abigail

      I like the second one. It’s both sarcastic and witty. Like, “hey, bad timing, but do whatever you want!” I just love it! I’d read that story 🙂

  87. Monica Johnson

    My story about a girl finding herself: Every once in a while, there is a person who just pops up and says, “Hey, I’m special! Make my words into inspirational quotes, and believe me if I say that the sky is green!”. Suddenly, everyone follows that person like ducklings to their mother. How has it come to this? Whatever happened to ‘Everyone is special’?

  88. Yogi Holil

    The primal instinct inside of you is telling you to hide somewhere safe, because it is not safe outside. Every single living cell in your body knows something is going to happen.

    The storm is coming…

  89. Grace Morbitzer

    Mine is:
    “Well, crap.”
    It had been a long time since it rained so hard that the roof leaked.

  90. Ricin

    Started a new project and tired to write a good opener. Here goes. “Men
    say that red is the color of the mad.
    No. Red is the fiery burning
    passion of a soul seeking redemption from being damned by all and spoken words silenced with blood spilled
    cold. Red is the ferocity to rise
    against the being that taught him everything and silence the darkness within
    for eternity. Tonight, he decided, this
    ends now.” (I’m aware that playing the pronoun game probably isn’t my best move here, but it’s my plan to keep the opening as anonymous as possible. For suspense :D. Criticism is welcome!)

    • Shenelle

      That was amazing

    • Ricin

      Thanks! 😀

  91. AutumnEnding

    Here is my first line.

    Symphony Adams hated the symphony, however her adoptive parents loved it and so Symphony was her name.

  92. Gary G Little

    They call me Thud. Thomas Hardy Ulysses Davis.

  93. Emily Heath

    My story’s beginning-

    The hallway lights dimmed and her very being began to glow as to blind me from everything else in the world but then the hand of my best friend tagged my shoulder as his arm hugged the back of my neck and the lights suddenly sprung to life, bringing me back to reality.

    -I hope someone likes it.

    • Marguerite Gauthier

      It has potential but your wording indicates you’re in over your head.

      Poor grammar (Seriously: “as to blind me”? I won’t tell you how to correct, it’s so easy you have no business being a writer if you can’t grasp it!)
      Amateurish: ” but then the hand of my best friend tagged my shoulder as his arm hugged the back of my neck” – Too wordy. Fix.

      This is an obvious first draft. Sleep on it. Or don’t quit your day job flipping burgers.

    • Oh

      Why don’t you try being professional and give real criticism and advice instead of just trying to act decadent.

  94. Zaseeya Kamal

    It was such a day New York had that we expected the
    city’s frigid core to explode and overflow her boundaries and into the
    Atlantic. A Polaroid of a happy family – dated 1988 and a smiling sun over Coney Island – was located under her lissom hands, and it coexisted with inestimable doubts that occupied her mind. It was winter day January 23rd and the thought of a colder winter made her residents roll their eyes off and the tourists were rather terrified of the thought. She was a tourist, flown fifteen thousand kilometres at such an unfortunate time, and just like her mother said, New York isn’t really much after its holidays. It couldn’t have been a simpler day, just another blank winter in 2008, where the skies weren’t reluctant to laze around, and prevent the oh-so-eager sunlight who just wanted to clothe the bare tree, and it wasn’t even ashamed of doing it until the hours of seven, eight, or even nine.

    – How’s this?

  95. Liam

    How about this for the start of a fantasy novel:
    “They were coming, they were near and they were hungry”

  96. Rebecca Glesener Davis

    So where is everyone with their WIPS? I see some of these go back a few years.

  97. Jake Laguitan-vista

    ” Goodbye I’m sorry that this happened to us, we love each other but maybe this is not our time” – one of th dialog in my drafts

  98. Nathan

    This somewhat reminds me of a game I play with my friends. You start with a simple event such as “the music stops, a woman dies”. That leaves so many questions open, and obviously the objective of the game is to utilize them in an effort to discern the plot. In that one, the woman was a blind acrobat walking across a tightrope. She knew it was safe to step onto the platform when the music ended, but the conductors baton flew out of his hand, bringing to an abrupt end both the music and the acrobat.

  99. Miles Et Lucy Beining

    The snake looked at him curiously/

  100. Em

    Sunny Hill was full of ignorant people.

  101. Ava

    A single post-it note flutters to the ground, whispering not to miss the late night train to nowhere.

  102. David Grove

    Paradigm Shifter

    by Keith Rockman

    Alan didn’t know why it was so
    difficult for him but so effortless for everybody else. Then he met
    Mr. Jennings who was a special teacher. Mr Jennings could see things
    what other people couldn’t, he could see potential. Then there was
    the one big day when he understood exactly what was different about
    his life, he had dyslexia. Now that they knew what the problem was
    they could work on a solution. He took his special reading classes
    and language arts. Alan felt like he had accomplished the feat no
    one ever thought he could. It seemed like there were limitless
    possibilities. But that’s when he had the big crazy dream, he wanted
    to be a superhero. This was a paradigm shift. The range of human
    faculties was

    understood as never before.

    Without Mr. Jennings, Alan couldn’t do
    it. And without Alan, Mr. Jennings wouldn’t want to do it.

    The first step would be to discover
    Alan’s super power. The next day,they went to the lab. What
    experiments could they perform?

    this is part of my novel in progress give me your thoughts please

  103. David Grove

    Paradigm Shifter

    by Keith Rockman

    Alan didn’t know why it was so
    difficult for him but so effortless for everybody else. Then he met
    Mr. Jennings who was a special teacher. Mr Jennings could see things
    what other people couldn’t, he could see potential. Then there was
    the one big day when he understood exactly what was different about
    his life, he had dyslexia. Now that they knew what the problem was
    they could work on a solution. He took his special reading classes
    and language arts. Alan felt like he had accomplished the feat no
    one ever thought he could. It seemed like there were limitless
    possibilities. But that’s when he had the big crazy dream, he wanted
    to be a superhero. This was a paradigm shift. The range of human
    faculties was

    understood as never before.

    Without Mr. Jennings, Alan couldn’t do
    it. And without Alan, Mr. Jennings wouldn’t want to do it.

    The first step would be to discover
    Alan’s super power. The next day,they went to the lab. What
    experiments could they perform?

  104. David Grove

    any feedback would be greatly appreciated thank you

  105. David Grove

    Alan didn’t know why it was so
    difficult for him but so effortless for everybody else.

  106. 百夜 優一郎

    I’ve been planning a book for awhile now, and this helped a lot. My first line might be something along the lines of….

    “The blood of the impure, the grace of the pure. Mixed together, it creates a force as powerful as God itself.”

    I don’t know. It’s a major work in progress.

  107. Lara

    ‘He shivered. The final blow wounded his last nerve before he
    fell to lie in his own puddle of blood. The rough contact of skateboard wheels
    and the concrete street strayed around him until the last string of laughter
    was dead. Until then, he knew he was alone.’
    Hi, i’m 16 and i’m writing my first novel. This is like the 7th draft! I was wondering if this opening paragraph is good enough.
    Please help?

  108. Maddy

    How does this sound;

    Elijah crouched in the dense foliage, nothing more than a shadow. Without making a sound, he crept toward the crowded prison wagon, and the two guards jeering at the slaves it contained.

  109. Gem

    I’m starting a chapter and I’m trying to decide on lines. Do you like this?

    ” I spent most of my teenage years pondering why a raven was like a writing desk,”

    • MorganCourtenay

      Very quirky! Makes me wonder about this character.

  110. David

    This is my first line. Just starting out with this. I think the quote is really cool and sets the tone. Also any feedback would be awesome.

    The corporeal blade cuts the flesh and shows the parts of us that are human, yet the
    intangible blade cleaves us in two and reveals our deepest and utmost horrifying

    I suffered both.

  111. Kelly Gioja

    What do you think of this?

    She knew outside was chaos with the Acid Lake burning while
    men scrambled either tame the fury or get to the safety of higher ground, but
    Olivia didn’t care.

    • MorganCourtenay

      Too much detail for me. How about- “One of Olivia’s Life rules was to ignore chaos. Sure, the Acid Lake was burning and she could hear screams and shouting outside. But she didn’t care.”

  112. LilyMaryann

    Here’s mine:
    “Alice’s body was in excruciating pain, but her mind was somewhere else entirely. She kept thinking about how stupid she’d been, nearly getting herself killed.

    She also had “Easy Lover,” stuck in her head, which was rather annoying, given the current situation. She wasn’t to much of a Phil Collins fan.”

    • MorganCourtenay

      I’d scrap that and rework it completely. It gives too much away in a way that doesn’t excite me. How about: “It was amazing how, in the depths of pain, Alice’s mind was a million miles away.”? Or to reduce using “was”, “In the depths of pain, Alice was a million miles away.” You could add some quirky details that the reader would not expect- for example, perhaps she is smiling. That would make me wonder why. You might want to tell us where she is- again, throw in the unexpected.

  113. Mickey

    I’ve recently started (desperately) trying to write a book, and I’ve narrowed all of my first lines to this specific one:

    Isn’t it hilarious, how nothing can work out as planned? How maybe you’ll end up in a mental asylum, or maybe in a house with just a plain, normal life? I chose C, none of the above.

    • MorganCourtenay

      Humorous and conversational. This is enticing.

  114. Paris

    This is for a short story, but this is the first few lines that kick off the story:

    I don’t remember falling asleep, I don’t remember waking up, I can’t remember what breathing feels like, I can’t figure out if I’m even alive, but I don’t remember dying.

    • MorganCourtenay

      I’d have that last part either separated by ellipses, or as a stand-alone sentence.

  115. SecretAngel

    Writing the first line is so damn hard. Here goes.
    Senna remembered her very first Christmas with her family, she remembered it because it was the last one she’d ever have.

    • MorganCourtenay

      I’d break that up into two sentences for effect.

    • SecretAngel

      Written in “close third” that’d be perfect. Thanks.

  116. James Watt

    There are many biography writing service in the world.But most of them are not good.So, it is very difficult to find out a good biography writing service.If we want to find out a good biography writing service,we must know about custom writing an artist biography help quality.So that we can find out a good writing an artist biography writing service.

  117. disqus_08N7gCnDv3

    Here’s a bit of a beginning, though I’m unsure what to do with it
    “The trick is distraction. Always distraction. Training your mind to deceive your body until your reality is first screened through a careful fantasy, absolutely impossible to tear the two apart.”

  118. sidthedidda

    Okay here is my beginning to a fantasy novel.

    “My greatest Audience.” Ish said with a low bow.”I am here to tell you of legend…a legend that starts in the lowleist of places but ends in a dual that will shake the very pillars of history…”

    • Abigail

      Ooh!!! I really love this one! It’s really gripping… Can I read more???? You might consider moving the bow to the end in order to help it flow better. 😉 But otherwise, I feel as though he is addressing me as the reader, as if I am part of his “greatest Audience” –Which I love!!!!

  119. Abigail

    First lines are HARD!!! This one’s for a short story:

    brother’s death was announced in the papers. I can’t tell you what I thought in
    that moment. Or how I told my mother. I just remember hate. I hated the truth.
    I hated the papers for telling it. I hated my mother for accepting it. But most
    of all, I hated how powerless I felt.

  120. Connor

    Arkim was so startled, he almost sliced a finger off.

    • Jo March

      You should try to use more detail. Your sentence has the potential to be chilling or make the reader grit their teeth. You could make the reader shudder or feel sick or fearful. If you just made it less basic, you could have a masterpiece sentence. Sure you attract attention, but it feels too simple. You could have the power to make an awesome sentence that pulls the reader in but makes them want to cringe and turn away. I can’t say much because I don’t even know what you’re going for or what almost sliced his finger off. I just think that, with additional information, this could be a stellar sentence. (Excuse the word choice, please. I’m exhausted, and that’s just what came to mind.) You’re on a good track with your idea though. Thank you. You actually inspired me to make a sentence I really love.

  121. Corey

    First time writing. My first idea for the start of my book is: My first and last hunting trip as part of the Mathan tribe ended with a roar, four deaths and my brother choking the life from the great Mar’tul, whilst I cowered inside a yew.

    • Jo March

      It definitely catches my attention and makes me want to know more. I’d try to think about how to change the rhythm of the sentence a little, but that’s likely just my personal preference.

    • MorganCourtenay

      I’d cut off one of the clauses here- probably the end. Perhaps have that as a stand-alone sentence to break up the rhythm?

  122. Richard Berridge

    Heres the start to my WIP

    Don’t get me wrong I’m happy with my life, but there are times I look back and wonder if it was all worth the cost. Take a seat and let me regale you with my tale, and what better place to start a story then in the middle.

    • Jo March

      I like it, but I’m also skeptical. It almost feels as if I’ve read something like this before. Those things aren’t necessarily bad, of course. I feel as if the first line is a bit too vague. I would throw in a tiny bit of foreshadowing detail that seems out of the oridinary if you can. It would give you an element of suspense building up to the climax of the story and pull the reader in to search for the meaning behind whatever you put. As for the second line, I actually like it. It’s comfortable and classic, but it stands out in a warm way that draws the reader into your book/story with a conversational sort of tone. As for your use of the word regale, it shows potential sophistication. That little twist at the end where you say you’ll start at the middle may not be the newest tool, but it fits into your sentence well and does its job. I got the feel that I was about to be taken on a fantastic adventure with a charming main character. (possibly medieval or a long time ago?) Over all, I like it well the way it is, despite nitpicking here and there. I do still think you could make it more original and loyal to your style as a writer. One part of a book that I appreciate is if I feel as if I’d know the author just by reading their novel or even a first sentence. It’s not necessary, but I think making that kind of signiture in your work is what made the more famous authors we know today as renowned as they are. Personally, I would love it if I had that sort of natural tone and craft. Sorry if you don’t like my comment or if it’s too long. Just, when I see something I have an opinion about something written, I turn into a windbag writing more constructive criticism than I or the author has words on the page. You should see my notebooks when I edit and revise! See? I’m rambling again. Thank you. (I do ACTUALLY like your sentence. I hope I complimented enough so I don’t come across as mean. Sometimes I use metaphors for criticisms and talk about how the story made me really feel, and I’ve gotten into some trouble for that level of harshness. Thanks again though! I promise I’m done now.)

    • Richard Berridge

      Thanks for the comment I’m glad you like it, it’s exactly what I’m looking for a bit of constructive criticism and suggestions.
      It really is appreciated and will allow me to review.

    • MorganCourtenay

      Excellent and detailed comment. I’ve learned something from it.

    • Richard Berridge

      Here is the alternative start I had in mind, cutting out the original 1st page altogether.

      Facing off against Lowbrows by herself with naught but a bow and a quiver of arrows, This was not the way Katja envisioned her day going, yet here she was staring down the shaft at the leader of the raiders, the occupants of the caravan they attacked cowering in silent anticipation.

  123. Jo March

    These are three alternate beginning sentences I’ve been working on all for a strange idea (entitled Dead Laughs) I had after reading 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill:

    1. If
    anyone ever deserved to get it in front of his audience, I decided, it was Billy,
    who I wanted to murder for cuttin’ me up.

    2. He and his crusty poodle killed me and a whole room of people that night.

    3. My career turned to pus just like the pink eyes of Billy’s poisonous providence, the parody poodle.

    All honest and constructive feedback is very welcome, although it gives me butterflies. I’m only seventeen and have only been writing about five years. I’m still trying to hone a craft of my own and develop a stand out writing style. I want to write in a voice that’s recognizable in literature and try to have compelling stories full of rhetorical elements. Essentially, I want to produce stories that people haven’t heard with strange personal elements in use to tell the story in a surprising/unexpected way. Anything you could offer as advice would likely be useful. (Sorry if I’ve said too much) Thank you.

    • Richard Berridge

      Seems the beginning to a nice dark tale the second line being my personal favourite as I can envision a theatre full of people. It definatly says that the person thinking this line is unhappy with Billy, though the first one makes it appear more personal.
      maybe a combination of the two as they almost fit perfectly together.
      Keep going it looks good.

  124. Richard Berridge

    Here is the alternative start I had in mind, cutting out the original 1st page altogether.

    Facing off against Lowbrows by herself with naught but a bow and a quiver of arrows, This was not the way Katja envisioned her day going, yet here she was staring down the shaft at the leader of the raiders, the occupants of the caravan they attacked cowering in silent anticipation.

  125. Alicia Howard

    Here’s mine: “If I had known about what was in store for me I would have never opened that stupid, good for nothing book.”

    • Miss Cellany

      I like it, but I would Change it to

      “If I had known what was in store for me, I would never have opened that accursed book.”

      But then I love fantasy and horror so I’m putting a spin on the sentence towards those genres 😛

    • Alisson Roussel

      Sounds promising… I would like to read it.

  126. Nathan Lee

    Here’s some:
    ‘I’m a con man–or was, as it is; there isn’t really anyone left to con’
    ‘He was foolish to think nothing would happen. A man don’t do something like that and get off scot-free.’
    ‘To start, Caleb’s wife had just died, though there had been enough death near him recently that he could hardly shed a tear”

    I’d love critique, though I don’t feel particularly enthusiastic about any of these. Then again, most great opening lines that I’ve read sound ridiculous on their own to me.

    • MorganCourtenay

      I love the first one. Particularly as a main character I am developing used to be an art forger.

    • The Library of Emma

      “I’m a con man– or was, as it is; there isn’t really anyone left to con.”

      I loved this so much i signed up just so i could let you know, haha. It gripped me immediately.

  127. Jessica Milton

    This is the beginning lines of my current story as it stands today-
    She faced the palace as the iron gates swung closed behind her, people already gathering to catch the first look, she took the first step toward the future. Bottom lip between her teeth she faced Holyrood Palace where she might never leave again. She almost wished for a surf board.
    Let me know what you think!

    • MorganCourtenay

      I would reword that first sentence: “As the iron gates swung closed behind her, she took her first step forward into the future.”

  128. Ed

    I don’t write but I did find it of the utmost interest. I showed it to a friend who writes novellas, he came up with this:
    “It was raining and he was running; he could hear the knife in his side knocking wildly on his eardrums, while the music from his headphones tore his belly open with each step.”

  129. atukemerye makare

    hellow joe!I realy need to become a writer and today i compose my first starting line.,”the camp is not far from their town,it was friday of june 1965,where students of san frasinsco university went for research in the niger river”how do you see my line

    • Anya

      It’s sort of boring.

  130. Ternek Hale

    Here is my first sentence to a horror novel:
    I can still taste the Freedom on the tip of my tongue. It’s really sweet… just a little bit bitter… but not quite as bitter as Morphine. And, believe me, I know what Morphine tastes like.

  131. Mel

    My favorite first line is from Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C.S. Lewis. “Once upon a time, there was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” Also, my friend (who likes to write) had this as the first line of one of her stories:
    “Akira absolutely hated Mondays. She had already hit the snooze button on her alarm clock seven times, and threw it into the wall, destroying it. Unfortunately, the sound of her alarm hitting the wall with a loud ‘Bang!’ sent the other occupant of the house sprinting up the stairs and kicking open the door.”

  132. Bethany

    Spain simply wasn’t built for fire drills. Here, you can’t plan how you will react to a crisis and, if you do, things will most certainly not go your way.

  133. Carolind

    Ok, my book is a bit futeristic and takes place in 2063, but here is my first line:
    There was pain, there was suffering, and there was war.

  134. Carolind

    I love this opening line!!

  135. Meg Walker

    The beginning of my fantasy novel:
    “A pair of crescent-shaped daggers slashed the air in front of Mékisch’s green eyes as he dodged the attack, just barely. He steadied himself, ready for the next strike. He watched her run at him, fury blazing in her sky blue eyes, fire living somewhere deep inside of them. He lifted his broadsword, hearing the clangs from each dagger ring against it.”

  136. Gabriëlle

    Caroline’s departure to eternal doom was literally being celebrated.

    • Jane Black

      I’d definitely read more of this, loved it!

  137. Tionna Watson

    A monstrous plague introduced it’s self to my family when I was seven years old and it seized their souls, leaving me with a pile of corpses that is still piling up today.

  138. Mykaela Abbott

    I need help coming up with a first line, please reply or email me at mabbott2268@gmail.com

  139. Christopher Lovelady

    First line of a novel I started tonight. First novel attempt so any constructive criticism is appreciated:

    “Hate has always come easy for me. I was born to it, raised in it and, based on how my mom and dad got along, I was probably conceived in it.”

  140. MilkyWriterWolf

    This is the beginning line to my novel:

    “If there was one thing Taylor hated more than fire, it was firefighters.”

  141. Words Words Words

    First line to a circular story:
    A sudden light pieced my eyes, forcing me awake.

  142. Sana Damani

    She knew that she was supposed to be sad, or at the very least put up a convincing act of being a grieving widow, but all she could think was “I’m free!”.

  143. Aurora Matheson

    What about this line;

    “I am a terrible person. It’s a fact that everyone should know before they begin reading this heroic quest of adventure that I unfortunately, fail to do my part in. Would you really like to know why I am clearly a terrible person? This, my dear unknown friend, is your lucky day, for I am in a mood to tell stories and boast of the long ago past. So sit down, relax, and indulge, for it is a very long story.”

    Feedback is much appreciated!

  144. Aurora Matheson

    Here is another;

    “It was a night of someone’s life ending without death. She was going having it all end. Her wish, the one naive wish of starting all over, getting a fresh start, becoming a blank slate, would be granted.”

    What’s your opinion? I’m new at this, so I want to get better.

  145. Ikaru Sentinal-K'Valshar

    I’m working on a fantasy novel set on a sentient planet in a binary star system, and the planet’s name is Hatreya. I’ve had trouble trying to get the whole sentient planet and sentient stars thing across without huge info dumps…how is this for a first couple lines?

    “Hatreya despaired that her voice could no longer reach her children, even when one of them lay within her deepest cavern, the very cavern that contained her heart-core. While HE admired the ancient mural carved millennium ago, the girl in chains hoped in vain that he would forget she existed.”

  146. Suman Pani

    Writing a story about a writer

    The queerness of the scenario stem from the fact that she sat in an air-conditioned room lit by a single candle.

  147. Miya

    “She felt it in the way her golden locks blew violently around her face. She heard it in the clinking of the wind chimes, the relentless rustling of leaves. And once she opened her dull eyes, she saw it in the angry clouds, forming together a mile or two away.”

  148. Gemma

    oh please… it doesn’t matter what your first line is. it’s all about innovation and the excitement it gives to the person who reads it.

  149. Amanda

    Here’s one that I have been working on, hopefully I can get some good feedback.

    The boy hurtled through the sky, arching high above the demolished terrain, until finally landing on a pile of burning rubble. His pointy ears and light frame distinguish him from the bodies that surround him. One hand holds a decorated axe of gold and red, his shoulder speared by a deep purple Theebian blade, one marked with a fatal inscription. In the moments after his crash, a beast flapped its wings weakly, landing unsteadily beside him. The golden scales on the the creature’s back reflect the light of the moon, throwing it’s head back, the dragon let out a savage wail as grief overtook it. It toppled to the ground beside the boy, giant talons wrapping around the boy’s lean torso in a mournful embrace.

  150. lahdidah

    I stood vacantly at the edge of the road, casting glazed-eyed half-glances across the trail of squat cars that puttered in exasperation. Rain drizzled all around me, lacking the energy to fall with any kind of gusto. It trickled down my cheeks, indignant at being cheated out of its latest victim; I had no warmth left to steal, no happiness to sap.

  151. Hollis Thundercroft

    I met Ethan Moon in a pub on Venus and two shots of vodka later we decided we were going to colonize Neptune.

    • Keagen J. Grace

      That’s epic. And hilarious.

  152. Laurie Jones

    A friend told me I should write a book about my experiences as a mother and struggling with post-partum depression. Here is a little nugget to start the book off. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!!

    “Where the hell is NICU?! I need NICU in here STAT!!”

    Okay, so the opioids coursing through my body might have made up the STAT part, but
    the voice that it belonged certainly sounded STAT. And no, it’s not what you’re thinking. I’m not some crackhead off the street, getting high and doing irreparable damage to my
    unborn child. My opioids were a completely unplanned part of what was supposed to be a non-medicated delivery. But let me just tell you, when you’re in the middle of contractions that feel like your body is being torn apart by a herd of walkers, and you feel like it’s time to push that kid out already, drugs are about the only thing standing between you and an emergency C-section. Also, it’s helpful to imagine, but not act out, punching the nurse in the face when she’s telling you to just breathe. Right, because
    breathing like I’m blowing out birthday candles is really going to tell my vagina to chill out. I don’t think so. Anyway, fast forward about 30 blissful moments (no really, those drugs were that good), and I was holding my first child in my arms. Not exactly the
    entrance into motherhood I had imagined. But then again, nothing about my experience as a mother has been anything like I thought it was going to be.
    Welcome to my life.

  153. Simon J Kyte


    It is always a chore for a woman alone to sort through a dead man’s possessions. It has been my inevitable responsibility this week in a cold year in which the winter fell hard on Fell Farm, the remote spot in the County of Westmorland in which I was raised in simplest of fashions, accompanied only by Eve, the deceased’s bitch.

  154. Nicole Nieddu

    Here’s one I am playing around with for my latest project:

    The bright red F on my test may as well have stabbed me in the back. At least my hunger pains were gone.

  155. Shanna Neuenschwander

    Here is my first opening, what do you think? Too much?

    Normal,what does that mean anyway? Just when you think you are normal and average,
    boom, life drops out from underneath your feet and you find out you are more
    screwed up than anyone you have ever met. Well, yet to meet anyway. I thought I
    was normal and just like every other college student. In reality I was wearing
    blinders, stuck in a mundane existence of repeating days only changing just
    enough to prevent complete madness. Then it all changed.

  156. Emily Faithe

    I would go so far as to say it would be even punchier if you just went with, “Dying was the best thing to happen in my life.” I LOVE it!

  157. Violet Azure

    Every little girl wants to meet a prince charming. Even I did at one time. Those dreams have officially burned down in flames.

  158. Violet Azure

    I already post one, but I have had this one stuck in my mind:
    I would love to bore you with all the introduction and crap, but unfortunately I don’t have much time to write and I am going to use it wisely. All you need to know is that my name is Raven and I might have ruined the world.
    Criticism is welcomed.

  159. Maria

    Alright….here goes nothing:

    I learned how to live only after my best friend killed herself. Her name was Katie, and her room was lavender. She loved flowers, and so when we bought our first apartment together, she wanted her room to be full of them. I remember how we painted flower designs onto those lavender walls, managing to cover ourselves in paint as well. There were potted flowers on top of her bookshelf. Katie loved her flowers, maybe even more than she loved herself. She even bought an alarm clock so she would remember to water her flowers. Today, those flowers are dead, their leaves are shriveled, their captivating perfume long gone.

  160. Abdul Abad

    Story about the death and birth of a superhero.
    That was the last time I felt fear.

  161. Nneka Anekwe

    Here are the first few lines from a short story I’m writing titled, “The Invitation”.

    The noise from the crowd is deafening but somehow I can still hear my father’s voice cry out to my mother as they secured the noose around his neck. My eyes are wide and tearful as the UWO soldier kicked him and the other rebels off the platform. I feel a sharp stab through my soul as his neck snaps from the drop. I open my mouth to scream but no noise suitable for the rage I feel makes its way out. Only a hoarse whimper like a wounded dog stands to represent me. “Nailah, RUN!!,” my mother yells as she pulls my arm with such force I thought it would come straight off. We need to find a safe place. A safe place. We run so fast and so hard that I begin to notice how tired I am. My mind starts to wander back to seeing my father’s eyes go dead and I lose focus and fall to the ground. My head hits the pavement and I blackout.

  162. Nessa

    I’m an amateur author just starting my first book. I wasn’t quite sure how to start my book, ‘Second Death’, but now that I’ve the first two chapters, I have an idea of how to start.

    I’m perfect.
    Yeah, I know you’re probably thinking ‘who the hell is this person and why the hell do they think they’re perfect,’ or ‘nobody’s perfect,’ but I honestly am.
    Way to break the ice, I know.

    What do you think? I am a little stuck for ideas at the moment, so any feedback is greatly appreciated.

  163. Bazini Ngcongo

    Hey all I really want to write a novel about my life. How I went to varsity and all. I just do not know where to start

  164. Gengetsu

    “Burn this book. Don´t read any further. What this tome contains is not for human eyes. I don´t care if this book was a present from your friend or if you spent the last bit of money you had on it. Just burn it. Set up a flame and throw this book inside. What are you waiting for?”

  165. KMarra66

    My first TWO lines for a short story about a woman’s psychological decent after her young daughter goes missing. Here goes.
    Jane sat alone on the park bench, watching the children play, wrapped up in their imaginary worlds—safe—as their mother’s cast invisible nets of protection with quick glances. She wondered briefly if that’s what she had lacked that night, a constant vigilance of awareness.

  166. Kayla Jane

    Here’s one I’m thinking of using for my YA fiction.

    Generally speaking, no one knows when they will die.
    Maria Taylor has known her own death for a very long time. When she was twelve years old she looked into the flames of a dying campfire; nothing has looked quite the same since.

  167. Marns

    I’m having a bit of trouble with my vampire story… The beginning is: ”This is not what I had in mind when I accepted to be turned into a vampire. I thought it was going to be the hunter, not the hunted!”
    Please tell me your opinion (I’m still thinking of deleting the sencond sentence)

  168. Nun to

    In the beginning the universe was created
    This made many people angry and was considered a bad move.

  169. Nun to

    Sorry I worded that wrong
    In the beginning the universe was created
    this made a lot of people angry and was widely considered as a bad move.

    -The restaurant at the end of the universe.

    • Hannah

      Ooh, I love that!

  170. Alisson Roussel

    That’s what I came up with as first story lines:

    We all have those moments in life when we just want someone to sit down and listen to us. It does not matter how many hours I take to lift the weight off my shoulders or whether recess just lasts for thirty minutes. I mean, come on, just let me talk non stop and rant endlessly and scream incoherent things every once in awhile; I deserve it.

  171. MC Gaming Wiz

    Here is the first line of my novel, hope you like it.

    Tears began to shed from Parker’s green sapphire eyes as he watched his father lay on the bed, near death.

  172. Ghazi Abbas

    Here is my first line for my novel, hope you like it.

    Tears began to shed from Parker’s green sapphire eyes as he watched his father lay on the bed, near death.

    • Hannah

      Interesting, but perhaps don’t start with physical description right away. In some cases that works, but in this case — especially since the term “green sapphire eyes” is often overused — it does not. I’m also a bit confused considering sapphire is blue, not green, so a different adjective that is one word might be stronger and will pull the reader in more. To clean it up a bit, I’d change it to this:

      Parker began to shed tears as he watched his father lay in his bed, right at death’s door.

      Overall, it creates a nice intriguing moment, and I’m curious to read more. I hope you won’t take this the wrong way, I’m really trying to help. 🙂

  173. Rozacardiff

    So here I was in the A & E department of Northampton hospital, this was not the kind of first date I expected.

  174. Rozacardiff

    Please ignore my post. I was just practising and did not intend to publish. How can I delete this?

  175. Nicholas P

    Here’s a first line for my Fantasy Mystery story, I hope I can get your opinion on it! Here it is:
    “Well, looks like you’ve come for a story, ay?
    Well I’ve got just the story for you, a story of mystery, action, and horror, and it’s real to boot! Now you may not believe this, but I’m part of this story, and I’ve got a few more stories if you want to hear those!”

  176. Hannah

    Here’s the opening line for my urban-fantasy story:
    It was, of course, on this particular day the two children had decided to go on an expedition in Apartment No.2.

  177. Luna

    Here’s my first line of my fantasy story.

    Luna didn’t know whether or not she had died last night.

  178. Leon Webb

    Opening line
    When he opened his eyes he knew right away that he was definitely somewhere
    else. Everything was completely unknown it was surreal. And the color it was
    almost as if he was wearing orange tinted glasses. The ground above his feet
    was half a foot deep golden sand and it only got deeper as he staggered
    around disoriented. He caught his balance after franticly darting in every
    direction then stood still. The initial shock soon wore off enough for his brain to
    function properly again.

  179. Hannah

    Here’s the beginning to my Contemporary YA novel:
    I once met a woman from India who said her name was Susan, though I highly doubt that was her real name.

  180. Stephen Hinojos

    Ejaw Ozar looked down on the city, confused by the protests raging infront of the Capitol Building.

  181. Ann

    I decided to try writing after reading dashiel hammett’s great detective.
    It didn’t hurt that we share the same last name.

  182. Olivia Emma

    Dunno. I’m only 12 years old, but I have a keen interest in writing. Trying to piece together my first story, but not sure how to go about it. Here’s a first line I’ve come up with. Feedback please, and any tips for writing a story to go with it 🙂

    I disliked many people. It didn’t help that when I finally found someone I liked, I realised he was fake.

  183. Real Writer

    I find that too many readers are completely illiterate and will read utter c r @p (complete with poor grammar, typos and other nonsense) as long as it titillates their vile needs and perversions (Filthy Shades of Gray much?) And they leave 5 star reviews for the utter garbage and 1 star reviews to the stuff they can’t grasp. Classic case of pearls before swine, here again!

    I pride myself on my excellent writing. The story is secondary to me, whether I read or write. It’s the journey, not the destination. If it enriches my soul from crafting my words, I know that the few who get it are more valuable than the soul-less, worthless masses that pay for trash. The turn of phrase is more important to me than sales. As such, I will not cheapen my writing with tawdry paragraphs, sentences crafted for the kindergarten-level intellects or typos galore.

    If you want trash, go watch the housewives of keeping up with the 3rd world reality vermin. If you want books authored by real writers, our compelling stories are out there. Find them. It starts by clicking Look Inside and using your brain, if you have one, that is.

    • NotAPretentiousJerk

      If it’s not your writing–as you seem to believe–is it your attitude that’s stopped you from being successful? Because despite the fact that your name is “Real Writer”, no one will read your stuff if they feel bitter condescension seeping from every word. It’s about connecting with other people, not talking down to them.

      P.S. The above rule does include the group of readers you deem “completely illiterate” for one-starring your stuff.

  184. Marguerite Gauthier

    Typos/grammar: it’s? Really? You can replace that by “it i good and bad”???
    Punctuation: “Take me for example, My death” – You have no business writing if you stick a capital after a comma. Just sayin’!

    Seriously, that’s what’s wrong with the current world we live in: illiterate idiots get published, and other illiterate morons keep them in business! Next you’re gonna tell me you’re a cook because you can microwave popcorn while burning 25% at the bottom of the bag and you can boil water. SMH!

    • Oh

      Yet you end your comment with a text abbreviation.

  185. Real Writer

    I find that too many readers are completely illiterate and will read utter c r @ p (complete with poor grammar, typos and other nonsense) as long as it titillates their vile needs and per__versions (Fi_lthy Shades of Gray much?) And they leave 5 star reviews for the utter gar_bage and 1 star reviews to the stuff they can’t grasp. Pearls before swine, here again!

    I pride myself on my excellent writing. The story is secondary to me, whether I read or write. All stories have already been told ad nauseatum. It’s HOW you tell it. Not what. Everything can be deemed predictable and cynics do review that way. It’s the journey, not the destination.

    If my soul is enriched from crafting my words, I know that the few who will read and get it or be moved are more valuable people than the soul-less, worthless, d/ rug_gy masses that pay for tr@ –sh and it is better to write quality literature for those few that t r a s h for the ver__min. The turn of phrase is more important to me than sales. As such, I will not cheapen my writing with tawdry paragraphs, sentences crafted for the kindergarten-level intellects or typos galore.

    If you want tra000sh, go watch the housewives of keeping up with the 3rd world reality ver__min. If you want books authored by real writers, our compelling stories are out there. Find them. It starts by clicking Look Inside and using your brain, if you have one, that is.

    Hope it now gets published with the necessary TYPOS above. Cheers!

  186. Kaitlyn Watts

    My first line to a piece of sci fi:
    Sometimes the truth is the hardest to believe.
    If I told you I have been dead since I was born.
    That I have been on the run since I was five.
    Would you believe me?
    What if I said I haven’t shared my first kiss,
    or tried to take my life since I was thirteen?
    The truth is only relative to the person telling it.

  187. Isabella Manning

    Of a short story I’m writing:

    I was born blind, yet I know sight. I do not need to look upon it to see the simple wonder of the woods, to see the wretched hate that vulgar men act upon, to see the misfortune of the ordinary, and the miracle of the unknown. My mind does not know blindness.

    (and continues as)

    I can feel mother’s arms safe and sheltered around me. I feel with love. I can hear the sigh of an autumn gale and the rumble of roaring thunder, hearing with private devotion the song of the earth. I listen to the world. I can smell the sunrise aroma of roasted coffee in a tin mug, every morning that I can recall. I remember with scent. I can taste each sentence I utter; I savor both the winsome and the wounding language on my lips. I taste with words.

    (I am wondering if I should rearrange)

  188. S.L Morris

    I’m not sure on my opening line. I’ve made a few, but I just wasn’t “feeling” them. Let’s see… umm…

    1. Everyone has a purpose in life, bit like a chess board since we all have our roles to play, only this game never seems to end.

    2. Black and white, that is how life used to be for Alex, but recently there’s been nothing but vibrant colours.

    Just came up with these, and I’m sure I can come up with more at some point. What do you guys think? 1 or 2, and why…

    • S.L Morris

      I’m not so sure…

  189. Abbie Cooper

    White. White walls, white ceiling, white floor, a white window frame inviting sunlight into the white room. White bed, white blanket, white door. White. There was an almost sterile feel to the white room; the tiles gleamed as if they were mirrors to a pale world. A chill was in the air.

  190. Ruoxin

    I’m writing a first line for a fantasy novel and it goes like this:
    The air was thick with the feel of deceit, and flattery and gold and the smell of perfumes as it usually was in the court as Lords and Ladies sought to out play each other at petty little games of lies.
    Is it good? Or bad?

  191. Ruoxin

    This is the first line for my novel:
    “The air was thick with the feel of deceit and flattery and gold and the smell of scents that were rubbed into the skins of ladies like it usually was in the court.”
    Is it any good?

  192. Nancy

    Eyes wide open; his lips a breath away. She was trying to grasp the image of the steely blue eyes penetrating her. Desperately trying to cling on to the vision, reveling in the moment and feeling his presence, knowing with absolute certainty he was there. Gone.

  193. Nancy

    I’m in! For certain double check spelling and grammar before posting. Great first line!

  194. Oseremen A.

    It was a dark, dreary morning and the neighbour was practicing scream therapy in his shower.

  195. Susan

    “Unstable” and “A nuisance” aren’t usually two people that go together, but my mum and I somehow made it work.

  196. Ken

    Fire, fire so electrically hot, it was like being shocked by a taser, it had burnt me, more than once.

  197. Ciaran Mealer

    In the moment when the lightning struck I welcomed it like a benediction. After all, fire burns things clean, leaves them pure and empty. A vessel waiting to be filled.

    What think you?

  198. Fiona Higgins

    First lines is this great or just mediocre, all views welcome.

    The perfect smile was replaced by a bloodied maw as my teeth lay scattered on the ground before me.

  199. michelle

    here’s my first line:

    Since Scarlett had been a prisoner of her wicked stepfather for far too long,
    she’s always found her self in the far left corner of her prison cell.

  200. Mack G.

    God, 1984. “The clocks were striking thirteen.” Hooked from that instance; will never forget it.

    While we’re on the topic of surprising, crude, dystopias, how’s Fahrenheit 451? “It’s a pleasure to burn,” I believe the opening line goes. Nothing tells you a world is off like a perfect oxymoron.

    If we’re talking surprising, The opening of “The Color Purple” is surely as jaw-dropping as they get. How do you sum up a story of faith at its worst? Start with faith, at it’s definite worst.

    To branch of from great works of literature into guilty teen classics, Looking for Alaska begins not with a sentence, but with a header-“One hundred thirty six days before.” How intriguing! Before what? This one is a dead giveaway that this is something you need to invest your time in.

    “Scarlet Letter”, though dreaded by many, sets a beautiful scene and a ghastly tone, with a gorgeous few opening lines: A throng of bearded men, in sad–coloured garments and grey steeple–crowned hats, inter–mixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes.

    One more, One more! My guilty childhood pleasure that still exists today: Percy Jackson. “Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood.” What’s a half-blood? Why don’t you want to be one? This suggests that you are, indeed, a half-blood. Once again, what’s a half blood? Would I myself want to be a half-blood?” So many questions!!! Good times.

  201. Mack G.

    And as far as my own work goes, here’s some of my best:

    “There are two kinds of people in this world.” I started, very slowly. “Those who know, and those who don’t.”

    “They’re actually out there.”

    The balance between perfection and evil is a thinner line than you might think.

  202. Gromero

    When the first day at his new school ended, after being bullied and ridiculed in every possible way, Owen walked home crying.

  203. Rajen Jaya

    Thought provoking lines which would engage the readers to the story further.

  204. Erin Nox

    I just found this and it helped me FINALLY come up with a first line:

    “Ignoring the fact that their best agent no longer had one of his legs, it seemed like a perfectly normal day at headquarters.”

  205. someone

    The tension was palpable; the sympathy, a lie; and believing someone like Lucas wouldn’t sniff it like dung was the biggest mistake Jankof ever made. And maybe the last.

  206. Fathima Heba

    Here’s my first line (it’s still in progress):

    Three strikes. And then you’re out.



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