First lines. We have all picked an unknown novel off the shelves of a favorite bookstore, thumbed to the beginning and read the first line only to be dragged into the story with a compelling, frightening, or witty opening. Here are a few—three to be exact—opening lines that reached out and grabbed me. They act as the hook, and the author spends the rest of the novel reeling you in.
“Richler didn’t want to interview Reno, the coward, reprobate, and whiner, but newspaper correspondents don’t always have a choice.”
Richard Wheeler is known for compelling first lines, and his novel, An Obituary for Major Reno, opens with a zinger—it not only makes me want to read further, but it gets me curious just who Reno is, and why he is such an unlikable sonuvabitch.
“The corpse might as well have been in a minefield, surrounded by razor wire, and guarded by trigger-happy snipers. There was no way Adrian Monk would go near it.”
How can you stop reading Mr. Monk and the Blue Flu, with an opener like this? I dare you, try. And just why won’t Monk go near it? Gets you curious, doesn’t it.
“When the port wing began to flap I knew I was in trouble, not that I hadn’t been for some time.”
Jack Higgins—his older work at any rate—is one of my favorite writers. And this first line from The Last Place God Made is an example why. His work is dramatic, fun, and takes you places you have never before been. And damn if his opening lines don’t make you curious of what is happening, and why.
If any of you have read first lines you think are particularly defining, or sensational, or just damn good send them to me: My Email.