I have been thinking of great first lines and first paragraphs for short stories and novels. The first line and first paragraph of a story are essential for drawing a reader in. They are the first impression… the first glimpse through the door into a world we have never been and are uncertain whether we even want to enter. If that first glimpse strikes our fancy, we will open the door wider and walk in. If it leaves us cold, or does not resonate with us, we will simply keep passing… to the next door and the next… until we find one to our liking.
Here are a few great opening lines that came instantly to mind. I am forgetting a number of them I am sure. Great opening paragraphs will have to come another day.
In the meantime, enjoy!
Great Opening Lines
“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.”
~ 100 Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
“None of them knew the color of the sky.”
~ “Open Boat,” Stephen Crane
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
~ Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
~Pride and Predjudice, Jane Austen
“In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains.”
~A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
~A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
“In the fall the war was always there but we did not go to it any more.”
~“In Another Country,” by Ernest Hemingway
“The seller of lightning rods arrived just ahead of the storm.”
~“Something Wicked this Way Comes,” Ray Bradbury
“This is the saddest story I have ever heard.”
~The Good Soldier, Ford Madox Ford
“He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.”
~The Old Man and The Sea, Ernest Hemingway