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Transcript of Opening Lines
Why: Scene plays a big role in story.
Why not: Slow beginning.
Why: Start with a BANG!
Why not: High risk.
Why: Intrigue your reader.
Why not: Requires a lot of hard work and skill.
First- or Third-person Narrator
Why: Adds a warm tone,
Why not: Some readers think this is freaky.
Why: Adds thought.
Why not: Too clunky.
Why: Truly intrigues reader.
Why not: Very risky, difficult to pull off.
Suddenly the scream pierced the night. I leapt to my feet. I stood totally motionless. All was silent….and then it came again, only this time closer to us.
Some days I loved Dee,
but on others I hated her.
I didn't know that I could breathe underwater until I fell into the deep end and found myself sitting happily on the bottom!
Have you ever wondered what it might be like to fall from a plane and not have your parachute open?
Series of Questions
Why: Engages and intrigues reader. Repetition attracts, too.
Why not: Might become too repetitious. Difficult to pull off.
Why: To land readers in the thick of the moment.
Why not: Hard work involved. Make sure this is tied to a dramatic moment.
'Midnight already' he said. At first I didn't stop dancing but then it dawned upon me…
Does he... (Start of first 5 paragraphs.)
More Tips on HOW TO OPEN your story.
EVEN More Opening Lines with examples:
Some of the Best Opening Lines in Western Literature
"‘Take my camel, dear,’ said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass.”
Rose Macaulay, The Towers of Trebizond
“Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu.”
Ha Jin, Waiting
“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”
J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Many people associate Dickens with whimsy and eccentricity, but “He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.”
Raphael Sabatini, Scaramouche
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
“We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall.”
Louise Erdrich, Tracks
“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.”
Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
“I have never begun a novel with more misgiving.”
W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor’s Edge
“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing. We lived at the junction of great trout rivers in Montana, and our father was a Presbyterian minister and a fly fisherman who tied his own flies and taught others. He told us about Christ’s disciples being fishermen, and we were left to assume, as my brother and I did, that all first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fishermen, and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman.”
Norman McLean, A River Runs Through It
“Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.”
Anne Tyler, Back When We Were Grownups
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
George Orwell, 1984
“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”
C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”
William Gibson, Neuromancer
“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”
Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
“It was the day my grandmother exploded.”
Iain Banks, The Crow Road
“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
“When I was three and Bailey four, we had arrived in the musty little town, wearing tags on our wrists which instructed – ‘To Whom It May Concern’ – that we were Marguerite and Bailey Johnson Jr., from Long Beach, California, en route to Stamps, Arkansas, c/o Mrs. Annie Henderson.”
Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
“Mama died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know.”
Albert Camus, The Stranger
“It was a pleasure to burn.”
Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
“Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the riverbank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, ‘and what is the use of a book’, thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversation?’”
Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story.
Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome
All this happened, more or less.
Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.
Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
It was like so, but wasn't.
Richard Powers, Galatea 2.2
Once an angry man dragged his father along the ground through his own orchard. "Stop!" cried the groaning old man at last, "Stop! I did not drag my father beyond this tree."
Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans
It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not.
Paul Auster, City of Glass
A screaming comes across the sky.
Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow
This is the saddest story I have ever heard.
Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier
The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.
Samuel Beckett, Murphy
All children, except one, grow up.
J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter.
Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Miss Lonelyhearts of the New York Post-Dispatch (Are you in trouble? - Do-you-need-advice? - Write-to-Miss-Lonelyhearts-and-she-will-help-you) sat at his desk and stared at a piece of white cardboard.
Nathanael West, Miss Lonelyhearts
More Opening Lines: http://www.allgreatquotes.com/first_lines_novels2.shtml
So many stories still unwritten.
So many opening lines still unread.
What will your
first sentence be?
What's your story?
"The 25 Best Opening Lines in Western Literature." Shmoop. Web. 28 Oct. 2012.
Anders, Charlie. "The 7 Types of Short Story Opening, and How to Decide Which Is Right for Your Story." Io9. Io9, 30 June 2011. Web. This site is not credible but the compilation is good.
Appel, Jacob M. "10 Ways to Start Your Story Better." Write Better, Get Published, Be Creative. Writer's DIgest, 29 Mar. 2011. Web.
Carpenter, Courtney. "5 Wrong Ways to Start A Story." Writer's Digest. Writer's Digest, 16 May 2012. Web.
"Folktale Openings." Folktales for You. Ed. Sharon Johnson. Jennings and Ponder: Storytellers, 18 Oct. 2009. Web.
Nichol, Mark. "20 Great Opening Lines to Inspire the Start of Your Story." 20 Great Opening Lines to Inspire the Start of Your Story. Daily Writing Tips, 11 Apr. 2011. Web.
"Opening Lines of Novels, Famous First Lines of Novels, Best Opening Lines." Opening Lines of Novels, Famous First Lines of Novels, Best Opening Lines. All Great Quotes, n.d. Web.
Pattison, Darcy. "12 Ways to Open Your Novel." Fiction! Believe in Your Story. Fiction!, 10 Mar. 2010. Web.
Peat, Alan. "Improving Narrative Openings." Alan Peat Limited. N.p., n.d. Web.
Wolverton, Jim. "David Farland's Daily Kick in the Pants-Avoiding ClichÃÂ© Openings." David Farland's Daily Kick in the Pants. David Farland, 12 July 2012. Web.
Compiled and created by Ms Chie
It was a dark and stormy night.
There once was a princess who lived in a castle.
Once upon a time,
How do you entice readers to enter?
This is a true story.
Long, long ago...
Many long years ago...
In a small village...
In a distant kingdom...
In a far away land...
to an alarm clock ringing
Opening with a dream.
to a blazing sun shining
to a cute little birdie chirping
to someone shaking her awake
and no dialogues.
and no narrative.
In a distant land...
DO NOT START A STORY WITH WEATHER
DO NOT START A STORY WITH CHARACTER DESCRIPTION
DO NOT START A STORY BY ADDRESSING THE READER
DO NOT START A STORY WITH PREMONITION
DO NOT START A STORY WITH THE PROTAG WAKING UP
DO NOT START A STORY WITH CLICHES
Once upon a time. A long time ago. This is a true story.
DO NOT START A STORY WITH SETTING DESCRIPTION
DO NOT START A STORY WITH TELLING
DO NOT START A STORY WITH DESCRIPTION
DO NOT USE HELPER WORDS
DO NOT START A STORY WITH A PROLOGUE
DO NOT USE EXCLAMATION POINTS!
GRAMMAR AND SPELLING SHOULD BE PERFECT
DO NOT MAKE YOUR MAIN CHARACTER AN ANIMAL
Are there exceptions to these rules? Of course. There are always exceptions.
(The discussion between writers in the comment section of this article is worth the read, if you're interested enough to know what writers and publishers really think is a good opening line. :) - Ms Chie)
How Not To Start A Story
Light at the end of the tunnel?
Once upon a time
does not always lead you
to happily ever after.
What about these?
Not the best choices.
Must only be used
OPENING LINES FOR MY STORY