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Opening Lines


Hazel
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Stephen King has shared his best opening line - http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/stephen-king-shares-the-best-opening-line-he-ever-wrote_b75325

 

I love Needful Things, I believe it is being made into a TV series which I will be watching. This is a pretty good opening line - it's ominous and sums up the whole feeling of the book.

 

Can we think of any more good ones? And I am not just talking about the obvious ones...

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Didn't know about the planned series Hazel, thanks for that I'll keep a look out for it. Still waiting on the TV/flim version of the Dark Tower :-(

 

Anyway on with your thread, the first line in Needful Things is so good, needs no explanation.

 

Some others that I like are - firstly from the Book Thief by Markus Zusak

 

"First  the colours

     Then the Humans

     That's usually how I see things

     Or at least, how I try.

 

Here is a small fact - you are going to die." 

 

Then another one from King from 11.22.63

 

"I have never been what you'd call a crying man."

 

Ben Okri's Famished Road - "In the beginning there was a river."

 

and E.L. Doctorow Loon Lake - "They were hateful presences in me."

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Then another one from King from 11.22.63

 

"I have never been what you'd call a crying man."

 

 

I like that one. As I get older I find myself drawn back to Stephen King again, maybe trying to recapture the enjoyment I got from his books in my youth. I regret getting rid of the hardbacks of some of his books now.

 

Is 11.22.63 worth the read?

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Is 11.22.63 worth the read?

I really enjoyed it Hazel, strong characters and a believable story, if of course you accept the initial premise of time travel. But of course reading King means you already accept that things happen in his books that perhaps don't happen in 'real life'. I'm sure there was a thread on it but it possibly got lost in the last crash.

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It's a cliché, but my favourite opening line is "It was a bright, cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." from Nineteen Eighty-Four, a sentence that immediately puts you at your (un)ease.

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Since I remember this one, it has to be good!

 

"The sky above the port was the colour of television, tuned to a dead channel", which sci-fi enthusiasts will know is from Neuromancer, by William Gibson.  I have corrected the spelling of "colour" from how it was published ;)

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It's a cliché, but my favourite opening line is "It was a bright, cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." from Nineteen Eighty-Four, a sentence that immediately puts you at your (un)ease.

My favourite too :)Has an ominous ring to it, perfect beginning for 1984.

 

Recently read Wool by Hugh Howey and its opening line

 

“The children were playing while Holston climbed to his death”

 

struck me as strange too. Death in the very first sentence and that too for the main character ( the first part is titled as Holston) intrigued me.

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  • 2 weeks later...

First lines are a strange thing.

 

I would imagine any author would break his or her neck trying to come up with a killer first line to be memorable, a hook to grab the reader … but I think in trying so hard sometimes they'll be just too contrived. I just finished reading Wool. That opening stayed with me, it was well written.

 

Regards Stephen King first lines: “This is what happened.” from The Mist always makes me smile. Not the greatset but pretty direct. Straight to the point. Sit down, you, and listen.

 

But I particularly like Phillip K. Dick's opening line from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?:

“A merry little surge of electricity piped by automatic alarm from the mood organ beside his bed awakened Rick Deckard.” which straight away tells you something of the theme of the novel ie. anthropomorphism of non-living things, and their effect on people. Very cute.

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Welcome, Tully, from a fellow Hamiltonian! (Burnbank.)

 

This forum has quite an academical feel to it...

 

Anyway, as for opening lines (and it is a cliche, I know), there's High Rise by JG Ballard: "Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous months."

Edited by MisterHobgoblin
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My favourite opening line of a book is one I read as a child and it has always stuck with me, it remains to this day one of my favourite books ever read:

 

"It was better than Christmas, the way we rolled off down the road, shouting and bawling and pretending to limp as though we had cork legs like Mr Bailey."  Taken from There is a Happy Land by Keith Waterhouse.

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Regards Stephen King first lines: “This is what happened.

The prologue to Julian Barnes's Staring at the Sun (1986) also kicks off with the sentence This is what happened.

But that is a way of simultaneously establishing the story-teller's authority and undermining that very authority. For the simple reason that it immediately invites the question "Well... how do you know? Were you there when it happened?"

 

Kurt Vonnegut was very much aware of the narrator's limited authority in any story when he wrote the opening line of Slaughterhouse-Five (1969):

 

All this happened, more or less.

Edited by jfp
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Not really keen on striking opening lines, esp those so often quoted - the Orwell. the Tolstoy, the Austen etc. It's such an obvious gimmick to get unearned attention. The only one that I like is the first line of Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop: Although I am an old man, night is generally my time for walking. (Dickens, a great walker, was only in his thirties at the time.)  This line has the quiet intimate tone that draws the reader into an intimate relationship with the narrator.

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  • 4 years later...

I just read 'Murphy' by Samuel Beckett and have nothing especially pleasant to say about it (dense, meandering sentences that go absolutely nowhere and left me unable to focus on any of it). Truth be told, it was the least enjoyable reading experience I think I've ever had (despite the guy clearly having an immense talent and way with words it just bored me to death). 

 

That all being said, it may contain perhaps my favourite opening line of any book. Very Beckettesque.

 

"The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new."

Edited by hux
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Not an opening line but I have adapted Anna Karenina's opening line for my work

 

"Good audit reports are all alike,

Every bad audit report is bad in it's own way"

 

There is a lot more work when dragging a qualified audit report or one with an emphasis of matter  than an unqualified audit report

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  • 3 weeks later...

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