May 24, 2019, 10:42:43 PM

Author Topic: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)  (Read 18924 times)

Offline hyptonize

Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
« Reply #60 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!

Offline Saraband

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Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
« Reply #61 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  :)
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Offline jastonka

Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
« Reply #62 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")

Offline ladybritches

Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
« Reply #63 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.

Offline Yora

Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
« Reply #64 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.
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Offline marta.kliska

Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
« Reply #65 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.”
M?odo?? jest pot­wornie ci??kim przy­pad­kiem i chy­ba nie ma ni­kogo, kto by z te­go wyszed? bez powik?a?.

Offline Druss

Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
« Reply #66 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.

Offline Lady Ty

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Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
« Reply #67 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?

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
“This is the problem with even lesser demons. They come to your doorstep in velvet coats and polished shoes. They tip their hats and smile and demonstrate good table manners. They never show you their tails.” 
Leigh Bardugo, The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

Offline Rostum

Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
« Reply #68 on: December 13, 2015, 06:06:03 PM »
"It was the day my grandmother exploded" The Crow Road Iain Banks

Offline tebakutis

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Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
« Reply #69 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.

Offline Rostum

Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
« Reply #70 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.

Offline DireWolfSnow

Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
« Reply #71 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.

Offline m3mnoch

Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
« Reply #72 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.

Offline Eclipse

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Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
« Reply #73 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
According to some,* heroic deaths are admirable things

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Offline JRTroughton

Re: Your Favourite Opening Line(s)
« Reply #74 on: December 14, 2015, 06:33:26 PM »
"Once upon a time, there was a dark and stormy girl." - The Wolf Wilder.

Superb stuff.