Writing Craft

First Lines

The first line can tell a lot about a story. It can tell whether it will be creepy, or serious, or funny. It can tell you if it’s set in our world or in an imaginary world. It can tell you if it’s going to be told by a narrator or by the main character. Most of all though, a great first line can tell you whether or not you’re going to like the story!

Take a look at some of my favorite first lines in children’s books today…

∙ “If you are interested in stories with happy endings you would be better off reading some other book.” (A Series of Unfortunate Events- The Bad Beginning)

∙  Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. (Harry Potter and the Scorcerer’s Stone)

∙ “Not every 13 year-old girl is accused of murder, brought to trial, and found guilty.” (The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle)

∙ There isn’t one mirror in my house. (Divergent)

∙ There was a hand in the darkness and it held a knife. (The Graveyard Book)

∙ “How five crows managed to lift a twenty-pound baby boy into the air was beyond Prue, but that was certainly the least of her worries.” (Wildwood)

∙ Sophie had waited all her life to be kidnapped. (The School for Good and Evil)

∙ “It certainly seemed like it was going to be another normal evening at Amelia Bedelia’s House. “ (Amelia Bedelia- Unleashed)

∙ “Sometimes there’s no warning.” Chronicles of Ancient Darkness- Oath Breaker

∙ When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.” (The Hunger Games)

“It was fun at first, playing house.” (Love, Aubrey)

∙“My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes and I came back with a dog.” (Because of Winn- Dixie)

∙ Today I moved to a twelve-acre rock covered with cement, topped with bird turd and surrounded by water. (Al Capone Does my Shirts)

See what I mean? A great first line can help you decide whether or not to read on.  So when you’re writing your own story, do your best to create something great. Something that will make your reader turn the page. Something that will stay with your reader long after the story’s over.

So what do you think of these first lines? Which one do you think is best?  Do you know of a line that should be included on this list? If you do, leave it in the comment box below. I’m always up for another favorite first line!  🙂

2 thoughts on “First Lines”

  1. The first line of Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides has always stuck with me. “I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.”

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