Great Opening Lines
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,”written by Charles Dickens at the start of his masterpiece, A Tale of Two Cities, is one of the most memorable opening lines ever written. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” at the start of the Book of Genesis is another. They grab the reader’s attention right away and pull you into the story. A great piece of writing has to have a great opening line. It has to set the scene and introduce the characters.
One of the most memorable English-language opening lines has become a joke for bad writing. “It was a dark and stormy night” opened the 1830 novel Paul Clifford, by Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton. Many native English speakers know this line and can quote it without having the slightest idea of its origin. Well, there it is. I have often said that I would be attracted to a story that began, “It was a dark and stormy night. About a month later…” not because it is good writing, but just because it is weird enough.
With my students I sometimes like to make up fictitious opening lines of stories just for fun, and to teach them how it’s done. I give them an opening line and leave it to them to finish the story. It’s a fun exercise.
When John got out of his car with his family in front of their brand new house he didn’t expect to see his old girlfriend waiting for him on his doorstep, but there she was.
It is a cold and bitter feeling to be buried alive, and all on account of a girl.
Some boys eat from hunger, and some boys eat from boredom, but Scott ate and ate and ate some more all for love. Or, that’s what he said, anyway.
At six in the morning - even on rainy days - the school caretaker always unlocks the doors for the football team’s practice, but not today.
Her hat felt light on her head as Beth jaywalked across the street in front of Mr. Joey’s Bakery on the windiest day of May, dodging traffic that included a red ’56 Chevy.
Mr. Parker wiped a dob of spittle from the corner of his mouth as he spoke. That’s just the kind of guy he was.
At the top of the hill, in the big house half-hidden by trees, lived a man nobody ever saw, but everyone believed to be the wickedest man in the neighborhood.
Sean never expected to receive any mail, but today was the day of his big surprise.
It’s funny to remember it now, at the age of 43, but learning to ride a bicycle as a boy was a lot harder for Mark than it was for his three brothers.
Susan’s parents thought the death of Herbie the Gerbil might teach their daughter to take better care of her pets, but that was before they learned the truth.
Mr. Brill always spoke highly of the likes of William Bonney, Ma Barker, and Ted Bundy and he was convinced he’d be going straight to hell when he took that hairpin turn on the sea highway too fast. So he was very surprised when, after a moment, he found himself at the pearly Gates of St. Peter instead.
Ever since junior high school I hated Chris Hamilton.
When students needed career information, had love problems, or just wanted a quiet place to hang out, they knew Mr. Petty’s office was always available.
When I was 13 that red haired girl who looked like Dr. Zaius from Planet of the Apes moved in next door to us. I think that’s why I liked her.
If you agree that suffering is a kind of learning, then you might agree that the Durrell family was a family of geniuses.
Margaret always criticized me for my nostalgia, calling the past a dead weight that interfered with a person’s happiness in the present and future, and after a time I began to agree with her point of view, as if admitting my feelings were depraved or corrupt.
All music, like all art, is a retelling of the same old boy-meets-girl story, which is why it is pathetic and beautiful at the same time.
Brian was in love, which was only the beginning of his troubles.
It took just twelve seconds to march condemned murderess Alicienne Duplesis from the prison door to the guillotine in the middle of the courtyard and cut off her head. A crowd of official-looking men of substance stood quietly as witnesses, some of whom no doubt marveling at the efficiency and orderliness of it all.
I always wake up in the mornings to the skittering sounds of squirrels running on the roof just above the head of my bed.
All his life, Larry Harlick preferred to be called “Lawrence” rather than “Larry.” So when he died and his family put “Larry” on his headstone many in the community took it as a kind of payback for the dirty, rotten scoundrel he was.
When she opened her eyes and saw that the urine test strip was blue Judy didn’t know what to do.
“It’s not really stealing,”Patrick told himself again as he took money out of his wife’s purse for the umpteenth time. “After all, I’m the one who earned this money in the first place.”
Jonathan loved Christmas and he kept his Christmas tree so long that it was brown and dry, and today was already the end of March.
Ellen had a team of doctors assigned to her to probe the reasons for the embarrassing waves of giggling that too often overtook her like an epidemic.
Mike was a District Attorney. As a symptom of his job everything he said sounded like an accusation, even at home with his family.
In the dawn light the last raindrops of the night’s showers clung to the window looking like a string of pearls.
Of all the embarrassing names imaginable, Harry Glands thought his name was the worst.
Like most normal people, I like to play music loud on my stereo at home alone. That’s why I didn’t hear the knock on my door.
If something’s worth doing, then it’s worth doing fast or not at all. Take your time thinking about it, by all means. But when you’ve decided to do a thing, then get to it, that’s what I say.
At the age of 40 Robert was doing three different things to earn a living, but he still wasn’t set on anything.
“If that boy ain’t in this house and in bed in ten minutes I’ll lock the door and lock ‘im out, that’s just what I’ll do. I don’t know what gets inta that boy’s head or where he gits hiself off ter.”