A conversation I had tonight inspired me to look at books to see what their very first lines are. I know there are some really well-known ones, like, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." But I could not have told you the first lines of any of my favorite books.
Well, now I'm going to and I'd like to hear some of yours, too. The reason this is interesting to me is that writers these days are told they must grab a reader from the very first line. Yet, many of the great books, including current best-sellers and new novels, don't have outstanding first lines.
So, here we go. Keep in mind, these are favorite books, not favorite first lines for me:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (JK Rowling):
Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.
Fablehaven (Brandon Mull):
Kendra stared out the side window of the SUV, watching foliage blur past.
DragonSpell (Donita K. Paul):
"Are ye sure ye won't ride all the way into the city?"
Inkspell (Cornelia Funke):
Rain fell that night, a fine, whispering rain.
The Secret of the Rose (Sarah L. Thomson):
They put the heads of traitors on spikes over the gate of London Bridge.
Watership Down (Richard Adams):
The primroses were over.
Beyond the Reflection's Edge (Bryan Davis):
Nathan watched his tutor peer out the window.
Demon: A Memoir (Tosca Lee):
It was raining the night he found me.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (CS Lewis):
Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy.
Eragon (Christopher Paolini):
Wind howled through the night, carrying a scent that would change the world.
Some of these are grabbers and some are not, but they are all from books I love dearly. So, I don't see much of a correlation here between astounding first line and astounding book. It can be argued that a couple of my examples are classics, and therefore can't be compared to current titles because style has changed over the years. But, the newer books don't all have first lines that jump you into intense action. I don't think readers necessarily want to be slammed into the middle of a situation. A good book can ease the reader in.
What are the first lines of your favorite books? Is that what sold you? Or did you enjoy letting the story warm up first?