First Lines

After a long silence, this week’s thought is brought to you by NetRaptor’s art blog . Yes, it’s an art blog, but occasionally she talks about writing.

The blog in question talks about great first lines. The first line of your story is arguably the most important sentence. Not only do professionals say this, but I can tell you this from experience. After all, many times I go to the bookstore, read the back of a book, and then if it looks interesting, I’ll read the first few pages. If the first few paragraphs don’t grab me, I’ll put it back. In fact, that’s the reason I never read Eragon or Ella Enchanted even though they’re supposedly good books . . . the first few paragraphs failed to grab me.

Here are some great first lines in my humble opinion:

  • No one believed it at first. Not even a little.
    Brave Story by Miyuki Miyabe
  • Rat did not know which was worse: being hungry all the time, or being lonely all the time.
    Space Station Rat by Michael J. Daley
  • Her parents were going to kill her for this.
    Voices of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn
  • Bradley Chalkers sat at his desk in the back of the class–last seat, last row.
    There’s A Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom by Louis Sachar

What makes these lines great? They make the reader ask questions. For example, what did no one believe? Why was Rat hungry and lonely? What could this girl be doing that’s so bad that her parents would kill her? Why is Bradley sitting in the last seat, last row?

Those questions make the reader keep reading to find out.

So, what are your favorite first lines? What do you think makes a good first line? Do you have a hard time thinking one up? Any advice to give someone who is struggling to come up with a good one?


2 thoughts on “First Lines”

  1. Hey, thanks for the referral! I didn’t know you had a blog. 🙂

    I already listed my favorite first lines. I do have the hardest time thinking them up. I’ve been revising them over and over to try to make them as interesting as possible, and I’m still not done. But I’m getting closer. It’s like focusing a camera lens. Every new twist of the focus gets it closer to true. 🙂


    1. You’re quite welcome.

      Actually, I really liked that line you wrote in your blog–something like . . . “Carda didn’t mean to total his car.” That’s a great first sentence. So, I think you’re on the right track. Keep going until you hit something you think is truly great.


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