Fantasy Faction

Fantasy Faction => Fantasy Book & Author Discussion => Topic started by: Idlewilder on July 17, 2012, 09:27:05 PM

Title: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Idlewilder on July 17, 2012, 09:27:05 PM
To me, the opening line(s) of a novel can be the most important in the book. They can be exciting, sad or even prophetic. I love seeing how authors decide to begin their novel, and that first line/paragraph can be so important.

A personal favourite of mine is this:

"The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."

                                    from Stephen King's Dark Tower 1: The Gunslinger.

It's far from being my favourite book or even series, but there is something about that line which conjures up such a strong image for me. Some may not find the book to their taste, and I admit it has more than a few faults - but this opening line is one of my favourites regardless.

So what's your favourite opening line(s) in fantasy?
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Francis Knight on July 17, 2012, 09:32:51 PM
The building was on fire and it wasn't my fault - Harry Dresden (I forget which one)

Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Jeni on July 17, 2012, 09:51:11 PM
One of my (new) favourites  :D

' As the iron war club scythed towards her head, Yukiko couldn't help wishing she'd listened to her father. '

From Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Dan D Jones on July 17, 2012, 09:56:39 PM
Just started this one but the opening line grabbed me right away.  The Darkness That Comes Before, R. Scott Bakker: 

"One cannot raise walls against what has been forgotten."


It's an unwritten law for this discussion - somebody HAS to mention Gibson' s Neuromancer or else the universe will implode from the injustice:

"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."




Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Jeni on July 18, 2012, 12:23:22 AM
A few more that grabbed my attention:

'Nothing ever begins.' = Weaveworld (Clive Barker)

'The magic was breaking free again.' = Songs of the Earth (Elspeth Cooper)

'Christmas crept into Pine Cove like a creeping Christmas thing: dragging garland, ribbon, and sleigh bells, oozing eggnog, reeking of pine, and threatening festive doom like a coldsore under the mistletoe.' = The Stupidest Angel (Christopher Moore)

 :)
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Francis Knight on July 18, 2012, 01:13:51 AM
They'd strung up the king with razorwire in the square across the river (an Abnett Warhammer)

On the far western shore of of a northern continent there was a city called Seattle. (Wizard of the pigeons, Lindholm)

the place stank. A queer mingled stench that inly ice cabins of the Antarctic know, compounded of reeking human sweat and the heavy fish-oil stench of melted seal blubber. (Campbell, Who Goes There, the basis for the Thing. Never start with the weather etc they say. Unless you do it like this. Atmospheric, claustrophobic. Class.)
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: DDRRead on July 18, 2012, 08:21:24 AM
Richard K Morgan's the Steel Remains.

Quote
When a man you know to be of sound mind tells you his recently deceased mother has just tried to climb in his bedroom window and eat him, you have two options.

The first line, paragraph, page, etc. is one of the strongest openings to a fantasy I've read.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Elspeth Cooper on July 18, 2012, 09:38:58 AM
'The magic was breaking free again.' = Songs of the Earth (Elspeth Cooper)

*blushes*
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Lionwalker on July 18, 2012, 09:44:44 AM
Richard K Morgan's the Steel Remains.

Quote
When a man you know to be of sound mind tells you his recently deceased mother has just tried to climb in his bedroom window and eat him, you have two options.

The first line, paragraph, page, etc. is one of the strongest openings to a fantasy I've read.

Seconded. I remember that grabbing me. I was slightly disappointed by the rest of the book though.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Gothos on July 18, 2012, 10:46:48 AM
one of my favourites is the opening line from sanderson's way of kings.

'kalak rounded a rocky stone ridge and stumbled to a stop before the body of a dying thunderclast.'

the first time i read this i was so excited to read more. I also have this on audio and listen to the prelude every now and again when i'm bored. The entire scene was one of the best openings to a novel ever.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Noona on July 18, 2012, 12:29:13 PM
Both of my favourites have already been covered, the Dark Tower and The Steel Remains.

I also like
"In a distant and second-hand set of dimensions, on an astral plane that was never meant to fly..." - from The Colour of Magic.

"As always, before the warmind and I shoot each other, I try to make small talk." - from The Quantum Thief.

"Contrary to whatever stories and songs there may be about the subject, there are only a handful of respectable things a man can do after he picks up a sword" - from Tome of the Undergates

"It is said, in Imardin, that the wind has a soul, and that it wails through the narrow city streets because it is grieved by what it finds there." - from The Magician's Guild
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: xiagan on July 18, 2012, 03:30:51 PM
It's an unwritten law for this discussion - somebody HAS to mention Gibson' s Neuromancer or else the universe will implode from the injustice:

"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."
I liked this one a lot too.

This thread could be a very cool quiz game with others guessing one's quotes. :)

Quote
In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit.

Quote
Far out, in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.

Fairly easy but quite good ones.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Autumn2May on July 18, 2012, 03:31:57 PM

It's an unwritten law for this discussion - somebody HAS to mention Gibson' s Neuromancer or else the universe will implode from the injustice:

"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."


I <3 this line. It's perfect.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Bane of Kings on July 18, 2012, 03:43:15 PM
My favourites have already been mentioned, The Quantum Thief and The Dark Tower. And, Brandon Sanderson's The Final Empire.

Quote
"Ash Fell From The Sky"

And, another one, from Horus Rising by Dan Abnett:

Quote
"I was there," he would say afterwards, until afterwards became a time quite devoid of understanding. "I was there, the day Horus slew the Emperor."


Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Idlewilder on July 18, 2012, 03:58:37 PM
Some awesome stuff here!  ;D

Another of my favourites is from one of my absolute favourite books, no question:

"The sunrise was the colour of bad blood."

                                          Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

It just evokes the whole feel of the book in one short sentence. And it's just so Abercrombian. (Yes I have just created a new word, and yes it is awesome)
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: simonster on July 18, 2012, 08:52:31 PM
It's an unwritten law for this discussion - somebody HAS to mention Gibson' s Neuromancer or else the universe will implode from the injustice:

"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."

And of course Neil Gaiman's modernization of that line in Neverwhere (not the opening line though):

  "The sky was the perfect untroubled blue of a television screen, tuned to a dead channel."

I've always been haunted by the first line of Samuel Delany's Dhalgren,

  "to wound the autumnal city."

although it isn't a complete line, and arguably it isn't first.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Louise on July 19, 2012, 09:30:18 AM
Retribution Falls - Chris Wooding

The smuggler held the bullet between thumb and forefinger, studying it in the weak light of the store room. He smiled sourly.

‘Just imagine,’ he said. ‘Imagine what this feels like, going through your head.’
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Gothos on July 19, 2012, 10:31:28 AM
Some awesome stuff here!  ;D

Another of my favourites is from one of my absolute favourite books, no question:

"The sunrise was the colour of bad blood."

                                          Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

It just evokes the whole feel of the book in one short sentence. And it's just so Abercrombian. (Yes I have just created a new word, and yes it is awesome)


I haven't read Abercrombie as of yet although its high up on my TBR list and yet as soon as I read this opening line i could tell it was Abercrombie and I find myself wanting to read more already.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Carfax on July 19, 2012, 12:51:35 PM
"Demandred stepped out onto the black slopes of Shayol Ghul, and the gateway, a hole in reality's fabric,
winked out of existence." - Lord of Chaos


Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Nyki Blatchley on July 28, 2012, 05:49:01 PM
There's loads I might quote, but one of my favourite opening lines in spec fic is from Mary Gentle's Ash: A Secret History: "It was her scars that made her beautiful."

A couple of non-spec favourites - One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

Or The Crow Road by Iain Banks - "It was the day my grandmother exploded."

Then again, of course, there's always the opening to Edward Bulwer Lytton's 1830 novel Paul Clifford - "It was a dark and stormy night..." 8)
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Dan D Jones on September 04, 2014, 10:03:08 PM
Old topic but I just found a new one to add to my list of favorites:

Snow, tenderly caught by eddying breezes, swirled and spun in to and out of bright, lustrous shapes that gleamed against the emerald-blazoned black drape of sky and sparkled there for a moment, hanging, before settling gently to the soft, green-tufted plain with all the sickly sweetness of an over-written sentence.

Steven Brust To Reign In Hell
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Richard Bendall on September 04, 2014, 10:50:34 PM

'Nothing ever begins.' = Weaveworld (Clive Barker)


This. It's one of the strongest opening lines I've read, in fact, that whole first page grabs and shakes me every time. I don't even dare read it to double check as I'll end up reading the entire book again.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: RaggaDruid on September 04, 2014, 10:56:25 PM
Just started this one but the opening line grabbed me right away.  The Darkness That Comes Before, R. Scott Bakker: 

"One cannot raise walls against what has been forgotten."

That's my favorite too.. I have to say...
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Perfidious_Albion on September 04, 2014, 11:01:13 PM
"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen" - Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. Although, if any genre, it is science fiction, not fantasy, I still think it's probably the best book I've ever read.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: cupiscent on September 05, 2014, 01:04:36 AM
The opening lines of the first story in the compilation of M John Harrison's Viriconium stories (I think the story is "Viriconium Nights", but I'm at work without my copy of said book) is one of the most electrifying story openings/world introductions I've ever read:

"The aristocratic thugs of the High City whistle as they go about their factional games among the derelict observatories and abandoned fortifications at Lowth. Distant or close at hand, these exchanges - short commanding blasts and protracted responses which often end on what you imagine is an interrogative note - form the basis of a complex language, to the echo of which you wake suddenly in the leaden hour before dawn. Go to the window: the street is empty. You may hear running footsteps, or a sigh. In a minute or two the whistles have moved away in the direction of the Tinmarket or the Margarethestrasse. Next day some minor prince is discovered in the gutter with his throat cut, and all you are left with is the impression of secret wars, lethal patient, an intelligent manoeuvring in the dark."
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Ryan Mueller on September 05, 2014, 05:01:52 AM
This is from Brandon Sanderson's humorous MG fantasy Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians.

"So there I was, tied to an altar made from outdated encyclopedias, about to get sacrificed to the dark powers by a cult of evil librarians."

Also from Sanderson (Elantris this time). Technically, there's a prologue first, but I just loved this line.

"Prince Raoden of Arelon awoke early that morning, completely unaware that he had been damned for all eternity."

And one more from Sanderson. From Steelheart.

"I've seen Steelheart bleed."


I also loved the ash falling line in Mistborn, but someone already took that. I don't know what it is, but I find a lot of Sanderson's opening lines are memorable.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Idlewilder on September 05, 2014, 08:54:42 AM
Couple I've read in the last year that aren't SFF but have just such atmospheric openers they're worth mentioning:

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton:

'The twelve men congregated in the smoking room of the Crown Hotel gave the impression of a party accidentally met.'

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

'The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation.'

Although they're not SFF (The Luminaries arguably has an element of the fantastic) I highly, highly recommend both for something different...
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Serenity on September 05, 2014, 10:47:49 AM
Just started this one but the opening line grabbed me right away.  The Darkness That Comes Before, R. Scott Bakker: 

"One cannot raise walls against what has been forgotten."

That's my favorite too.. I have to say...

Yeah, I liked that one, too.

Some of mine are:

'I was born in a house with a million rooms, built on a small, airless world on the edge of an empire of light and commerce that the adults called the Golden Hour, for a reason I did not yet grasp.'

- House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds



'No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.'

- The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells



'It was just past midday, not long before the third summons to prayer, that Ammar ibn Khairan passed through the Gate of the Bells and entered the palace of Al-Fontina in Silvenes to kill the last of the khalifs of Al-Rassan.'

- The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay



I think my absolute favourite is a non SFF one, though:

'His children are falling from the sky.'

- Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: wagumt on September 05, 2014, 11:21:16 AM
"In a distant and second-hand set of dimensions, on an astral plane that was never meant to fly..." - from The Colour of Magic.

This is also one of my favourites.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: nschmiddy on September 06, 2014, 08:40:35 PM
A lot of my favorites were already mentioned so here's two from pretty recently

Quote
When the Hidden Schools threw Tara Abernathy out, she fell a thousand feet through wisps of cloud and woke to find herself alive, broken and bleeding, beside the Crack in the World.
- Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

This next one is after the prologue but it's just such a clear picture in my head:

Quote
The sun hung just over the peaks, a silent, furious ember drenching the granite cliffs in a bloody red, when Kaden found the shattered carcass of the goat.
- The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Overlord on September 06, 2014, 11:10:36 PM
Some great ones from Twitter:

"The assassin stood, bound in chains, awaiting her executioner."

"The Unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone."

"There were prodigies and portents enough, One-Eye says. We must blame ourselves for misinterpreting them."

"I'm in a window seat at Donut Universe eating heart crippling lumps of deep fried dough with the Devil."

"Everything starts somewhere, although many physicists disagree."

"She came out of the store.....to see her young son playing on the sidewalk directly in the path of the grey, gaunt man"

"They made my father dance in thorns before they killed him."

"Below, toward the great Tyber Mountains, they came. Some in pairs, some alone. Fierce dragonhelms hid all but the eyes;"

"It was night again. The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts" (I know, its  2 sentences!)"They'd strung up the king with razorwire in the square across the river"

"The building was on fire, and it wasn't my fault."

"Ravens! Always the ravens."

"The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: LisaElle on September 07, 2014, 12:24:33 AM
"On those cloudy days, Robert Neville was never sure when sunset came, and sometimes they were in the streets before he could get back."

From I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. Nice and sinister :)
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: AshKB on September 07, 2014, 12:54:49 AM
Quote
Let's sing about the man there
at the breakfast table
his olive hand making endless circles
in the classifieds
'wanted' 'wanted' 'wanted'
small jobs little money
but you have to start somewhere.

Opening sentence for Toby Barlow's Sharp Teeth; urban fantasy, noir and organised crime and werewolves in LA, all written in poetry. It's a fantastic book.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Yora on September 23, 2014, 02:22:05 PM
Quote
Hier fängt die Geschichte an.

(The story begins here.)

From The City of Dreaming Books, by Walter Moers.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Doctor_Chill on September 23, 2014, 03:34:58 PM
"Man is a puerile creature." -Tomorrow the Killing, Daniel Polansky.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Yora on September 23, 2014, 10:17:00 PM
Does it then explain what "puerile" means?
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Doctor_Chill on September 23, 2014, 10:48:03 PM
Does it then explain what "puerile" means?

I don't remember, seeing as I don't have the book on me, but I don't think so. It means "childish, silly, and trivial."  Though all three could encompass people in his novel.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: wybaugh on September 26, 2014, 01:51:07 AM
Quote
The story so far:  In the beginning the Universe was created.  This has made a lot people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

The first 3 chapters are my very favorite of any start of a book next with The Stainless Steel Rat as a close second.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Elfy on September 26, 2014, 02:13:48 AM
'When the polar ice advanced as far as Nottingham, my school was closed and I was evacuated to Mars.' That's the opening line from Sophia McDougall's Mars Evacuees. It's a fantastic hook. Hearing the author say that got me to buy the book.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: OnlyOneHighlander on September 28, 2014, 07:30:35 PM
Sci fi rather than fantasy, but Joel Haldeman's The Forever War has one of my all time favourites:

"Tonight we’re going to show you eight silent ways to kill a man."

Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Elfy on September 29, 2014, 12:45:13 AM
I can't remember what book it's from, pretty sure it's neither fantasy or sci-fi, but we can't leave 'it was a dark and stormy night' out of this thread.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Ryan Mueller on September 29, 2014, 03:22:31 AM
I can't remember what book it's from, pretty sure it's neither fantasy or sci-fi, but we can't leave 'it was a dark and stormy night' out of this thread.

A Wrinkle in Time starts with that sentence.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Elfy on September 29, 2014, 03:49:14 AM
Does it really? I always remember it as being the opening line Snoopy used on a number of occasions when he was pretending to be a world famous novelist, and I actually believe there's a contest for the worst fiction of the year which uses that line as it's tag.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Ryan Mueller on September 29, 2014, 05:03:09 AM
It really does. I didn't remember it, but then I found out about it, and I think it's kind of funny. I read it before I cared about things like dark and stormy nights being cliched.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Elfy on September 29, 2014, 05:50:32 AM
I think the original is from a mystery, I believe the second line is something like: a shot rang out.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: thisbigblack on October 02, 2014, 12:34:59 AM
"Nyx Sold her womb somewhere between Punjai and Faleen, on the edge of the desert."  -Kameron Hurley, God's War

I've bought everything she's written from this point!

Her newest one is pretty damn good as well.  "When Lilia was four years old, her mother filled a shallow dish with Lilia's blood and fed it to the boars that patrolled the thorn fence."  Kameron Hurley, The Mirror Empire.  This line ruined my vacation as all I wanted to do from this point forward was drop everything and read this book.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Overlord on October 02, 2014, 08:39:30 AM
"Nyx Sold her womb somewhere between Punjai and Faleen, on the edge of the desert."  -Kameron Hurley, God's War

I've bought everything she's written from this point!

Her newest one is pretty damn good as well.  "When Lilia was four years old, her mother filled a shallow dish with Lilia's blood and fed it to the boars that patrolled the thorn fence."  Kameron Hurley, The Mirror Empire.  This line ruined my vacation as all I wanted to do from this point forward was drop everything and read this book.

Everything Kameron writes is 'powerful' and full of intrigue - those lines are perfect examples :)
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Overlord on October 05, 2014, 01:48:14 PM
Because I feel this thread deserves maximum exposure, I've turned it into an article for the front page :)

http://fantasy-faction.com/2014/perfect-beginnings (http://fantasy-faction.com/2014/perfect-beginnings)

Please keep 'em coming :)
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: ScarletBea on October 05, 2014, 02:39:12 PM
Sometimes I do feel I belong to a different race.
Opening lines do nothing for me, when compared to quotes picked from the middle of the book.
I don't know if it's because I dive quickly into the deep end, so the "beginning", for me, may be the first page, or the first couple of pages, or even the first chapter - or if it's because I take some time to "feel comfortable" with a story or a character and start caring.

I can think of several 'middle of the book' quotes I quite like, some I love, but I can't remember a single opening line.
 :-\
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Elfy on October 05, 2014, 11:05:27 PM
Sometimes I do feel I belong to a different race.
Opening lines do nothing for me, when compared to quotes picked from the middle of the book.
I don't know if it's because I dive quickly into the deep end, so the "beginning", for me, may be the first page, or the first couple of pages, or even the first chapter - or if it's because I take some time to "feel comfortable" with a story or a character and start caring.

I can think of several 'middle of the book' quotes I quite like, some I love, but I can't remember a single opening line.
 :-\
Not even in a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit?
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Yora on October 05, 2014, 11:49:16 PM
Seeing an author come up with a snappy first sentence is nice. There are lots of great ones here.

But I think in the context of the whole novel opening sentences are pretty much irrelevant. For the first page, and often several pages after that, you're still trying to figure out what the scene is and why you should care about anything of this. And lots of writers seem to have great fun of making the figuring out of these things as complicated and nebulous as possible to keep the reader in a state of helpless confusion for as long as they can get away with. What exactly the first sentence was is immediately forgotten.

It's only on the second or third reading that you can actually take proper note of the first sentence at all, or when someone points out to you in advance that it's of particular interest and you specifically look out for it and take a moment to think about it instead of continuing to read the story.

The only line that really caught me on first reading was "Here the story begins" in The City of Dreaming Books, and that's because immediately after that sentence the narrator goes into an extensive monolog about how great an opening line it is and why it's one of the greatest pieces of writing advice he ever got.
In a way, it could be regarded as a parody of the idea of opening lines, while still exploiting it unapologetically. (Basically the whole book works like that: Poking fun at itself and literature in general while at the same time showcasing how cliched elements can still be used effectively.)
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Saraband on October 06, 2014, 01:02:06 AM
I'm not that good at memorizing ANY lines, opening or otherwise. One of the few that has stuck with me, for no reason that I can identify, is Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice:

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

In Fantasy, there are a handful of sentences from Mark Lawrence which I love, but I can remember no single opening line from any book  :(
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: ScarletBea on October 06, 2014, 07:56:39 AM
Not even in a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit?

Well, I can tell where that comes from ;D but only because of the key word. No, I didn't remember it.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: sennydreadful on October 06, 2014, 10:35:48 AM
I'm not sure if I've already posted in here or not, but here are a few of my favourites:

Cheating slightly with the beautiful and weird opening paragraph of The Haunting of Hill House (I think that little "not sane" insert might just make it the most chilling opener to a book ever)

"No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone."


The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger, Stephen King

"The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed"


Watership Down, Richard Adams

"The primroses were over."


The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman

"There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife."


Good Omens, Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

"It was a nice day. All the days had been nice. There had been rather more than seven of them so far, and rain hadn't been invented yet."


Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: stevenpoore on October 06, 2014, 11:31:42 AM
With The Dark Tower, The Crow Road, et al accounted for, howsabout:
"It was a pleasure to burn." - Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
"First of all, it was October, a rare month for boys." - Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: ladybritches on October 06, 2014, 10:29:47 PM
"Thirrin Freer Strong-in-the-Arm Lindenshield carried her names with ease." ~ from Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hill.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: xiagan on October 20, 2014, 10:54:42 AM
I think there are opening lines we really only appreciate after we know the story/read the book. Lines that we notice on a reread or if we check them after finishing the book. This is one of them in my opinion:

in a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit?

Others are powerful the first time and just draw you in, like this one:

The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman

"There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife."
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Elfy on October 20, 2014, 11:23:09 PM
I think there are opening lines we really only appreciate after we know the story/read the book. Lines that we notice on a reread or if we check them after finishing the book. This is one of them in my opinion:

in a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit?

Others are powerful the first time and just draw you in, like this one:

The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman

"There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife."
Both of those are quite good, but I find the hobbit one almost perfect for a number of reasons. It sets the scene, it makes you wonder what is a hobbit? Why does it live in a hole in the ground? And that keeps you reading to find out the answer to those two questions at least.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: sennydreadful on October 21, 2014, 10:01:20 AM
I think there are opening lines we really only appreciate after we know the story/read the book. Lines that we notice on a reread or if we check them after finishing the book. This is one of them in my opinion:

in a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit?

Others are powerful the first time and just draw you in, like this one:

The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman

"There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife."
Both of those are quite good, but I find the hobbit one almost perfect for a number of reasons. It sets the scene, it makes you wonder what is a hobbit? Why does it live in a hole in the ground? And that keeps you reading to find out the answer to those two questions at least.

I also like the feeling you get coming back to the first line of The Hobbit after you've read it and The Lord of the Rings - such a simple line starting such an epic story.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Elfy on October 21, 2014, 11:37:53 PM
I think there are opening lines we really only appreciate after we know the story/read the book. Lines that we notice on a reread or if we check them after finishing the book. This is one of them in my opinion:

in a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit?

Others are powerful the first time and just draw you in, like this one:

The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman

"There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife."
Both of those are quite good, but I find the hobbit one almost perfect for a number of reasons. It sets the scene, it makes you wonder what is a hobbit? Why does it live in a hole in the ground? And that keeps you reading to find out the answer to those two questions at least.

I also like the feeling you get coming back to the first line of The Hobbit after you've read it and The Lord of the Rings - such a simple line starting such an epic story.
And also when you read the subtitle of The Hobbit, There and Back Again. Again a very simple, but accurate way, of describing an epic journey.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: hyptonize on October 24, 2014, 09:13:13 AM
“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
- Harry Potter and the Philopher's Stone

Oh, how I love that 'thank you very much' at the end!
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Saraband on October 24, 2014, 11:12:23 AM
“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
- Harry Potter and the Philopher's Stone

Oh, how I love that 'thank you very much' at the end!

That is a magnificent first line, which I had no recollection of - because I read the entire collection of HP novels translated into Portuguese. Seeing this has put me in the mood for a reread, in English this time  :)
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: jastonka on October 24, 2014, 01:13:41 PM
"Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea."
by D.Adams ("Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy")
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: ladybritches on October 24, 2014, 04:34:31 PM
“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
- Harry Potter and the Philopher's Stone

Oh, how I love that 'thank you very much' at the end!

That is a magnificent first line, which I had no recollection of - because I read the entire collection of HP novels translated into Portuguese. Seeing this has put me in the mood for a reread, in English this time  :)

I agree, it's a fantastic first line. You know right then, after only one line, what kind of people the Dursleys are.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Yora on October 24, 2014, 09:49:49 PM
I am coming to believe that a good witty first sentence seems to a simple statement that instantly tells the reader that in this world or plot, some things work quite different than we are used to. It makes you stop and think "Well, this doesn't sound right. In what kind of context could this possibly make sense? Please explain it to me."
Without really having given any practical information about the story, the readers automatically go into investigation mode and they continue reading the following sentences already with the purpose of trying to figure out what's going on.

“I was there, the day Horus slew the Emperor.” Who is this Horus and what was his story he had with the Emperor?
"Contrary to whatever stories and songs there may be about the subject, there are only a handful of respectable things a man can do after he picks up a sword." Which ones do you have in mind?
"When a man you know to be of sound mind tells you his recently deceased mother has just tried to climb in his bedroom window and eat him, you have two options." Just two? Which ones could that be?
"The building was on fire, and it wasn’t my fault." So how did it happen? And more importantly, what makes it necessary to point out that detail?

Which I think can also be expanded as advice to entire first scenes and chapters. Instead of presenting to the readers a normal situation and waiting until they have all the basic info before coming to the point where things start to get strange, the very introduction to the story can already be made into getting answers and making connections between details.
Though it probably can be done too agressively easily, I think this might be something to at least keep in mind when writing the beginning of a story.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: marta.kliska on October 28, 2014, 01:44:27 PM
“So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Druss on November 02, 2014, 07:19:56 PM
It was a dark and stormy night.

Only joking, I can't remember a single opening line of anything ive read. You all have very good memories.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Lady Ty on December 13, 2015, 10:36:47 AM
Not exactly my favourite but found this memorably black first sentence today. Why does this make me think of @Nora (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=40237)?

Night had come to the city of Skalandarharia, the sort of night with such a quality of black to it that it was as if black coal had been wrapped in blackest velvet, bathed in the purple-black ink of the demon squid Drindel and flung down a black well that descended toward the deepest, blackest crevasses of Drindelthengen, the netherworld ruled by Drindel, in which the sinful were punished, the black of which was so legendarily black that when the dreaded Drindelthengenflagen, the ravenous blind black badger trolls of Drindelthengen, would feast upon the uselessly dilated eyes of damned, the abandoned would cry out in joy as the Drindelthengenflagenmorden, the feared Black Spoons of the Drindelthengenflagen, pressed against their optic nerves, giving them one last sensation of light before the most absolute blackness fell upon them, made yet even blacker by the injury sustained from a falling lump of ink-bathed, velvet-wrapped coal.

The Shadow War of the Night Dragons - John Scalzi
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Rostum on December 13, 2015, 06:06:03 PM
"It was the day my grandmother exploded" The Crow Road Iain Banks
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: tebakutis on December 13, 2015, 10:23:29 PM
Since I mentioned this book in another thread (and it remains one of my favorites) the first line of Running with the Demon by Terry Brooks:

Quote
He stands alone in the center of another of America's burned-out towns, but he has been to this one before.

Like many have stated about other openings, this opening lines both sets the stage and raised questions. Since we're in "another of America's burned out towns" we know the scene is post-apocalyptic, but we wonder why. What destroyed America's towns? And, of course, we're told "he has been to this one before". Why? What was he doing there, and why did he come back now? I'm interested.

Another of my favorite openings ever is from the (sadly, no longer in print) Young Legionary series by Douglas Hill. The "cold open" of Galactic Warlord remains one of my all-time favorites, but even the first line also does a lot to draw you in.

Quote
He had been walking the dirty streets since twilight first began to gather. The pain streamed like liquid fire through every cell of his body - but he locked it away in a corner of his mind, ignored it, and walked.

"Dirty streets at twilight" is a very evocative visual, even if we don't know this is a sci-fi book (it has a spaceship and explosions on the cover, of course). Then, of course, we know our protagonist is in horrific pain, yet somehow has the will to fight it off and compartmentalize it. So we know we're dealing with a very tough individual. So I want to know where this person is going, why they are in horrific pain, and how they are tough enough to ignore it. The rest of the opening, of course, just gets more interesting from there.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Rostum on December 14, 2015, 11:30:34 AM
In the deepest heart of England there is a place where everything is at fault.
Graham Joyce Some Kind of Fairy Tale.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: DireWolfSnow on December 14, 2015, 01:42:16 PM
Quote
You can't lie to a sword

An interesting way to set up a novel. I love the exposition narration that Sam Sykes provides in A City Stained Red.

And then that is quickly followed up by one of my favorite lines from any book:

Quote
I've killed a lot of things.

I say things because people isn't a broad enough category and "stuff" would lead you to believe that I don't spend a lot of time thinking about it.

The list thus far: men. women, demons, monsters, giant serpents, giant vermin, regular vermin, regular giants, cattle, lizards, fish, lizardmen, fishmen, frogmen, Cragsmen, and a goat.

Regular goat mind; not a poisonous magical goat. But he was kind of an asshole.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: m3mnoch on December 14, 2015, 02:46:17 PM
it's funny.  i couldn't make it through the first few pages of city stained red.

as you say, this line was great:

Quote
You can't lie to a sword

An interesting way to set up a novel. I love the exposition narration that Sam Sykes provides in A City Stained Red.

i was all, "ooooh!  this is going to be good!".

then, like you, i read this part:

Quote
I've killed a lot of things.

I say things because people isn't a broad enough category and "stuff" would lead you to believe that I don't spend a lot of time thinking about it.

The list thus far: men. women, demons, monsters, giant serpents, giant vermin, regular vermin, regular giants, cattle, lizards, fish, lizardmen, fishmen, frogmen, Cragsmen, and a goat.

Regular goat mind; not a poisonous magical goat. But he was kind of an asshole.

i HATED the modern "and 'stuff'" part mixed with the high-minded "thus far" and then followed up with the cliche "kind of an asshole".  it's like a blender-mash of linguistic styles.

yeah, that book?  not for me.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Eclipse on December 14, 2015, 06:26:15 PM
I've got a terrible memory I can't remember any opening lines even the books I'm currently reading  ;D
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: JRTroughton on December 14, 2015, 06:33:26 PM
"Once upon a time, there was a dark and stormy girl." - The Wolf Wilder.

Superb stuff.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: JMack on December 14, 2015, 07:19:43 PM
I don't know if this is a favorite, but I like it:

Quote
Twenty minutes after the war ends, I'm watching stumpers pour up out of a frozen hole in the ground like ants from hell and praying that I keep my natural legs for another day.

Daniel Wilson: "Robopocalypse"
It just does a lot of things really well.

And, of course, I have to go with the obvious (for me):

Quote
In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit."
Which isn't that great of a line, really, except for what comes after.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Nora on December 15, 2015, 05:49:05 AM
Not exactly my favourite but found this memorably black first sentence today. Why does this make me think of @Nora (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=40237)?

Night had come to the city of Skalandarharia, the sort of night with such a quality of black to it that it was as if black coal had been wrapped in blackest velvet, bathed in the purple-black ink of the demon squid Drindel and flung down a black well that descended toward the deepest, blackest crevasses of Drindelthengen, the netherworld ruled by Drindel, in which the sinful were punished, the black of which was so legendarily black that when the dreaded Drindelthengenflagen, the ravenous blind black badger trolls of Drindelthengen, would feast upon the uselessly dilated eyes of damned, the abandoned would cry out in joy as the Drindelthengenflagenmorden, the feared Black Spoons of the Drindelthengenflagen, pressed against their optic nerves, giving them one last sensation of light before the most absolute blackness fell upon them, made yet even blacker by the injury sustained from a falling lump of ink-bathed, velvet-wrapped coal.

The Shadow War of the Night Dragons - John Scalzi

While I am extremely flattered to be compared to John Scalzi, I somewhat don't recognise my own writing in there, which shows just how subjective appreciation in writing is!!

What a compliment though! :-*
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: ClintACK on December 15, 2015, 01:50:11 PM
Another classic: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

Bonus points for the semicolon.

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
- Harry Potter and the Philopher's Stone

Oh, how I love that 'thank you very much' at the end!

Wow, that's a great line.  I'm always impressed when people can get recognizable voice and character into indirect quotes.


One more, even though it's two sentences:

Quote
On one otherwise normal Tuesday evening I had the chance to live the American dream.  I was able to throw my incompetent jackass of a boss from a fourteenth-story window.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Yora on April 01, 2016, 09:49:23 PM
Quote
One nighr, as Elric sat moodily drinking alone in a tavern, a wingless woman of Myyrrhn came gliding out of the storm and rested her lithe body against him.
While the Gods Laugh
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Rostum on April 01, 2016, 10:09:40 PM
It is still
Quote
"It was the day my grandmother exploded" The Crow Road Iain Banks
and probably will remain so.
Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Lanko on April 01, 2016, 10:15:34 PM
"Ravens! Always the ravens!" - Prince of Thorns

“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” - Neuromancer

“Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” - Harry Potter

Title: Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
Post by: Ryan Mueller on April 02, 2016, 12:47:08 AM
“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” - Neuromancer

I liked that opening line. Then the rest of the book happened.

Quote
“Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” - Harry Potter

While I find that line memorable, I don't actually care for it that much. I actually found the writing style very uneven in the first book, as if Rowling couldn't decide what age group she was writing it for. Of course, that's still my favorite series overall, so I'm just nitpicking here.