Writer's Tool Box

The Opening

This year I am going to write a novel. The coffee is on, my pen is posed and this week’s thoughts are on an opening line.

Here are a couple of my favourite story openers in no particular order:

  1. Alice Sebold’s The Almost Moon – “When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily.”
  2. Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons – “Physicist Leonardo Vetra smelled burning flesh and he knew it was his own.”
  3. Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World – “The Palace still shock occasionally as the earth rumbled in memory, groaned as if it would deny what had happened.”
  4. Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian – “The story that follows is one I never intended to commit to paper.”
  5. Ann-Marie MacDonald’s Fall on your Knees – “They’re all dead now.”

Those opening lines pull the reader right in. What do they all have in common? They are in the middle of a dramatic point of the story, something we as the reader want to know more about.

What are some of your favourite opening lines?

By Shari Marshall -2021

10 thoughts on “The Opening

  1. “It was the best of times…” Oh, sorry… 😉 Seriously, one of my least favorite parts of the books I have written are the opening lines, and actually, opening chapters. I think I’m getting better. There is so much emphasis on that opening. There is a lot of pressure to get it just right. And almost impossible…. On the other hand, just write your book and worry about that opening line later – the rough draft is just the first small step.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, Charles Dickens!

      I agree with that feeling of pressure from the opening line and chapter. So, much is built into the successful of the beginning! With that in mind, I shall write and and edit, edit, edit later. Thanks for stopping in Trent. Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I confess that I like messing with my readers with beginnings. My latest effort has a main character, Havilah, who has too many things going on in her head and while she is a strong thinker, she’s prone to reacting before she reaches a well thought out conclusions; thus, this first line to the story is:

    Havilah struggled to not over correct as she rounded the mountain turn going too fast, drifted into oncoming traffic and barely missed what would have been a fatal head-on collision with a wildly honking minivan full of what looked like a whole family and father-looking driver who managed to hug the far edge of his lane to give her time to get back into her own.

    Which is a gobbled mess of thoughts that put her where we find her almost killing several people as she panics about something and leaves the reader (I hope) wondering what in the world is going on with this gal? I thought, this opening felt like the inside of her head and posed the question, I’m then pleased to answer.

    We’ll see if it works.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh – that’s easy. The story is already posted but I still think of it as a beta version. But it’s close enough to share and , given where this story goes, I’d love to hear any comments you might have. I already have a story line change being suggested by one reader that we are ‘discussing’ because it’s a painful topic. From some of your stories I’ve read, I suspect you will have some interesting opinions. It’s about an hour long read now and your time is precious, but if you’d like to see how I handled this intro, you’ll find the link below.
        https://garyawilsonstories.wordpress.com/ayem-notthymn-the-second-door/

        Liked by 2 people

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