Novel Opening Lines (For Beginners)

I was thinking about the first lines of novels, and how they set the tone for the rest of it, almost indicating whether you’ll finish reading it as much as a glance at the cover would. It might be hard to come up with a first line that really sucks people in. However, it might be even harder to intentionally come up with a first line that really sends people running the other way.

  • Her friends just stared in shock, grabbing camera equipment or running madly away from the scene, depending on the personality of the person in question, respectively, but she didn’t worry, because she had been through this scene a thousand times before, and thinking about the folly of people and how they are judgmental and how they constantly overreact, she calmly said to them, “This is Bigfoot Sasquatch, and he is my boyfriend.”
  • I wonder”, said John the dentist, as he carefully pulled the abscessed root pulp from the second molar, referred to as 3 on a dental x-ray, that numeral indicating the upper left molar third from the rear, set it into the tray alongside the pick, the mirror and the drill and gazed back onto the drooling and lovely face and sagging lip of the gorgeous woman sitting in the chair, “if you’d like to get some coffee tomorrow around noon?”
  • “Mother” said the oldest brother to his siblings as they stared at the newly unearthed collection of pornographic films and realized that there was no question she had participated in 17 of them, had been the star in 12 of them, had shared star billing in 8 of them and had gone by different names in 7 of them, including Marigold, Petunia Pleasure, Goldie Loxx and Figgie Puddin, the last one making them reminisce about the times they had never eaten figgy pudding but had always wondered what it was each Christmas as they ate dinner right after opening their gifts but before singing carols, “wanted a chicken sandwich with mayonnaise.
  • It was time to visit his grandmother again, and Dave loved these times, especially the knock-knock jokes that he never seemed to tire of, until today when something seemed off as the exchange with his grandmother went thusly: ‘Knock Knock/Who’s there?/Dave/Dave who?” – and Dave grew sad as he realized that his grandmother’s Alzheimer’s had reached such an advanced state that she could no longer recognize him.
  • “I’m sorry,” he said through the glass doors, looking at the starving and thirsty people emerging from the recently liberated van captured from the human trafficking ring, the alien ship landing in the parking lot just past the gas pumps near the air hose, the various bediapered elderly men with their German nurses riding tricycles, a clown car shaped like a pinata from which emerged a near infinite number of clowns, the tour bus from Girls Gone Wild, the Brinks truck driven by alligators and a shadow of impending doom shaped like a horse, ridden by Death, “but we’re closed.”
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9 thoughts on “Novel Opening Lines (For Beginners)”

            1. What happens when you have chapters from different books and different times all together? Flashbacks and flashforwards and dream sequences and nobody knows what is real.

              That sounds fun to read!

              Liked by 1 person

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