I was talking about the opening sentence of my novel with a writing friend recently. The conversation reminded me of an old post I wrote. It’s been a few years, but here it is:
Thursday, March 17th, I spent the morning in anxiety, the afternoon in ecstasy, and the evening unconscious.
“Risk” by Dick Francis
In defense of Althalus, it should be noted that he was in very tight financial circumstances and more than a little tipsy when he agreed to undertake the theft of the Book.
“The Redemption of Althalus” by David and Leigh Eddings
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 Philosopher’s Stone” by JK Rowling
I’d never given much thought to how I would die – though I’d had reason enough in the last few months – but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.
“Twighlight” by Stephenie Meyer
I love first sentences. To be drawn in from the first few words is something I look for in a book (although by no means a reason to not read). The above 4 examples are all written by some of the world’s most successful authors, and all are favourites of mine. But I’ve never really thought about these sentences. What draws my interest? When I started to consider it I realised they all do the same thing:
- they all introduce something about the characters – and in all but the Harry Potter example, the main characters
- they all make me ponder a question – What could cause such a range of emotions in one day? What is the Book and why would Althalus not agree to steal it unless he was tipsy? Why would you need to be able to say you were normal, let alone be proud of it? How was she dying if it wasn’t something you could imagine?
- by making me ponder a question I have to read on to find my answer (they immediately captured me)
- they are all ‘different’, original openings
- they are all simple – simple language and simple ideas
Do you have a favourite first sentence?