Opening Lines

"That's torn it!" said Lord Peter Wimsey. 

7363117.thbSusan here, and that's a great start for a great book, featuring a character dear to many of us — and it may be clear to many that this is a Dorothy Sayers mystery, but which one? The Nine Tailors.

Last week I wrote the closing line of the current manuscript, which grew out of the book organically—and went through changes until it seemed a perfect closure. The last line or two is usually easier than the first lines, and now that I’m thinking ahead to the next book, I’m thinking about that opening line. Sometimes I just know it early on and it sticks—the words pop into my head even as the ideas are just beginning. And sometimes it changes as I search for the way into the story, whether it’s a descriptive line for tone or mood, a narrative line to enter an action situation or a setting, or a little dialogue to evoke a character quickly. I’m not just looking for the intriguing teaser line to pull the reader in—I want that first line to have some immediacy and set up some curiosity to open that door and give the reader a glimpse of what’s inside. One line does not always complete the opening hook –it might be a few as long as it rolls along and takes the reader with it.

109583271.thbThat proverbial hook—the line or few lines that pull you into another world, catch your attention, tap your emotion or stir your curiosity …and invites you to read on to find out more is all-important to the writer and the reader. If it doesn't quite hit the mark, the reader may bow out quickly. I used to slog through a book if I had opened it, but I haven’t done that in a long while. If I'm not caught by a book quickly, I'm out and on to the next book. But often I will go back later and give it another try, even years later, and discover that if I just push on, there’s a great read there. Sometimes the hook is a subtle thing. It doesn’t always grab immediately, yet there is a quality there that makes the reader curious to continue.

It was a dark and stormy night.   — A Wrinkle in Time, Madeline L'Engle 


A great book might have a deceptively simple opening line to a deep and wonderful story.  It might tell you some small yet significant clue about character, situation, setting. Sometimes it is just the power or beauty of the author's voice that brings you along. Simple or complex, hang on – you may discover an amazing world within.

Hobbit_coverIn a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.

—The Hobbit, J.R.R. TolkeinPublish

 

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.

31122I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith

Or the opening might be layered and longer with elements of the whole book hidden in that first sentence.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. – 

–Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

Peter Blood, bachelor of medicine and several other things besides, smoked a pipe and tended the geraniums boxed on the sill of his window above Water Lane in the town of Bridgewater.

— Captain Blood, Rafael Sabatini

When the east wind blows up Helford River the shining waters become troubled and disturbed and the little waves beat angrily upon the sandy shores.

– Frenchman’s Creek, Daphne du Maurier

Some opening lines set up tone, character and a key situation all in a few words:

When the girl came rushing up the steps, I decided she was wearing far too many clothes. 

51PAarM21RL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Silver Pigs, Lindsey Davis

Or it could be subtle and intriguing:

It was the egret, flying out of the lemon grove, that started it. 

The Moonspinners, Mary Stewart

The lad had the deep, burning eyes of a zealot.

— The Prince of Midnight, Laura Kinsale

It could open a narrative that draws you along, always wanting to know more.

I will begin the story of my adventures with a certain morning early in the month of June, the year of grace 1751, when I took the key for the last time out of the door of my father's house.

— Kidnapped, Robert Louis Stevenson 

And I’ll toss in a favorite among my own books:  

511+N0SWMML._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Wild as blackberries she was, sweet and dark and unruly, and she would never be his. Lachlan MacKerron knew it, had always known it.

The Sword Maiden Susan King 

So there you go, a few story portals — what's your favorite opening line in a novel? 

Susan 

90 thoughts on “Opening Lines”

  1. One of the classics:
    “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
    —Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
    And a more recent book (I would love to write something this perfect in tone):
    “To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.”
    —Silent in the Grave, Deanna Raybourne

    Reply
  2. One of the classics:
    “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
    —Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
    And a more recent book (I would love to write something this perfect in tone):
    “To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.”
    —Silent in the Grave, Deanna Raybourne

    Reply
  3. One of the classics:
    “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
    —Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
    And a more recent book (I would love to write something this perfect in tone):
    “To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.”
    —Silent in the Grave, Deanna Raybourne

    Reply
  4. One of the classics:
    “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
    —Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
    And a more recent book (I would love to write something this perfect in tone):
    “To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.”
    —Silent in the Grave, Deanna Raybourne

    Reply
  5. One of the classics:
    “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
    —Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
    And a more recent book (I would love to write something this perfect in tone):
    “To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.”
    —Silent in the Grave, Deanna Raybourne

    Reply
  6. Besides the opening of Pride and Prejudice, I always think of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca: “Last night I dreamed I was at Manderley again.”

    Reply
  7. Besides the opening of Pride and Prejudice, I always think of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca: “Last night I dreamed I was at Manderley again.”

    Reply
  8. Besides the opening of Pride and Prejudice, I always think of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca: “Last night I dreamed I was at Manderley again.”

    Reply
  9. Besides the opening of Pride and Prejudice, I always think of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca: “Last night I dreamed I was at Manderley again.”

    Reply
  10. Besides the opening of Pride and Prejudice, I always think of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca: “Last night I dreamed I was at Manderley again.”

    Reply
  11. There’s a board game dedicated to this: A Dark and Stormy Night — A Game of First Lines . . . Loads of fun even if you don’t know the answers.
    I second Deanna Raybourn’s Silent in the Grave.

    Reply
  12. There’s a board game dedicated to this: A Dark and Stormy Night — A Game of First Lines . . . Loads of fun even if you don’t know the answers.
    I second Deanna Raybourn’s Silent in the Grave.

    Reply
  13. There’s a board game dedicated to this: A Dark and Stormy Night — A Game of First Lines . . . Loads of fun even if you don’t know the answers.
    I second Deanna Raybourn’s Silent in the Grave.

    Reply
  14. There’s a board game dedicated to this: A Dark and Stormy Night — A Game of First Lines . . . Loads of fun even if you don’t know the answers.
    I second Deanna Raybourn’s Silent in the Grave.

    Reply
  15. There’s a board game dedicated to this: A Dark and Stormy Night — A Game of First Lines . . . Loads of fun even if you don’t know the answers.
    I second Deanna Raybourn’s Silent in the Grave.

    Reply
  16. 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, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. – A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

    Reply
  17. 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, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. – A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

    Reply
  18. 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, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. – A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

    Reply
  19. 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, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. – A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

    Reply
  20. 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, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. – A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

    Reply
  21. I LOVE The Nine Tailors. Best mystery I’ve ever read and the only one I didn’t figure out until the end.
    I can’t think of a single opening line right now though. My brain is mush today…

    Reply
  22. I LOVE The Nine Tailors. Best mystery I’ve ever read and the only one I didn’t figure out until the end.
    I can’t think of a single opening line right now though. My brain is mush today…

    Reply
  23. I LOVE The Nine Tailors. Best mystery I’ve ever read and the only one I didn’t figure out until the end.
    I can’t think of a single opening line right now though. My brain is mush today…

    Reply
  24. I LOVE The Nine Tailors. Best mystery I’ve ever read and the only one I didn’t figure out until the end.
    I can’t think of a single opening line right now though. My brain is mush today…

    Reply
  25. I LOVE The Nine Tailors. Best mystery I’ve ever read and the only one I didn’t figure out until the end.
    I can’t think of a single opening line right now though. My brain is mush today…

    Reply
  26. “Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.” – The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams

    Reply
  27. “Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.” – The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams

    Reply
  28. “Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.” – The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams

    Reply
  29. “Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.” – The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams

    Reply
  30. “Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.” – The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams

    Reply
  31. Jeanette said:
    When teaching students (with learning disabilities) the formal steps of the writing process, I always introduced each section with cartoons using “Call me Ishmael” Herman Melville, Mobey-Dick (1851) and this cartoon (addy below) to convey that even accomplished and published writers may have difficulties getting going on the draft. At some point one of my students, who was gifted in drawing, developed a complete set of amazing cartoons along one theme for me and I used those (which became part of an another ongoing lesson in my classroom) from then until I retired.

    Reply
  32. Jeanette said:
    When teaching students (with learning disabilities) the formal steps of the writing process, I always introduced each section with cartoons using “Call me Ishmael” Herman Melville, Mobey-Dick (1851) and this cartoon (addy below) to convey that even accomplished and published writers may have difficulties getting going on the draft. At some point one of my students, who was gifted in drawing, developed a complete set of amazing cartoons along one theme for me and I used those (which became part of an another ongoing lesson in my classroom) from then until I retired.

    Reply
  33. Jeanette said:
    When teaching students (with learning disabilities) the formal steps of the writing process, I always introduced each section with cartoons using “Call me Ishmael” Herman Melville, Mobey-Dick (1851) and this cartoon (addy below) to convey that even accomplished and published writers may have difficulties getting going on the draft. At some point one of my students, who was gifted in drawing, developed a complete set of amazing cartoons along one theme for me and I used those (which became part of an another ongoing lesson in my classroom) from then until I retired.

    Reply
  34. Jeanette said:
    When teaching students (with learning disabilities) the formal steps of the writing process, I always introduced each section with cartoons using “Call me Ishmael” Herman Melville, Mobey-Dick (1851) and this cartoon (addy below) to convey that even accomplished and published writers may have difficulties getting going on the draft. At some point one of my students, who was gifted in drawing, developed a complete set of amazing cartoons along one theme for me and I used those (which became part of an another ongoing lesson in my classroom) from then until I retired.

    Reply
  35. Jeanette said:
    When teaching students (with learning disabilities) the formal steps of the writing process, I always introduced each section with cartoons using “Call me Ishmael” Herman Melville, Mobey-Dick (1851) and this cartoon (addy below) to convey that even accomplished and published writers may have difficulties getting going on the draft. At some point one of my students, who was gifted in drawing, developed a complete set of amazing cartoons along one theme for me and I used those (which became part of an another ongoing lesson in my classroom) from then until I retired.

    Reply
  36. Jeannette, I copied and pasted your comment and deleted the original comment because the link was very long and threw off the spacing of the comment block. I created a tinyurl.com of your link:
    http://tinyurl.com/jm3sotw
    Though it’s a Google image search for Moby Dick rather than the cartoon you mentioned. Do you want to repost with a corrected link? Thanks!

    Reply
  37. Jeannette, I copied and pasted your comment and deleted the original comment because the link was very long and threw off the spacing of the comment block. I created a tinyurl.com of your link:
    http://tinyurl.com/jm3sotw
    Though it’s a Google image search for Moby Dick rather than the cartoon you mentioned. Do you want to repost with a corrected link? Thanks!

    Reply
  38. Jeannette, I copied and pasted your comment and deleted the original comment because the link was very long and threw off the spacing of the comment block. I created a tinyurl.com of your link:
    http://tinyurl.com/jm3sotw
    Though it’s a Google image search for Moby Dick rather than the cartoon you mentioned. Do you want to repost with a corrected link? Thanks!

    Reply
  39. Jeannette, I copied and pasted your comment and deleted the original comment because the link was very long and threw off the spacing of the comment block. I created a tinyurl.com of your link:
    http://tinyurl.com/jm3sotw
    Though it’s a Google image search for Moby Dick rather than the cartoon you mentioned. Do you want to repost with a corrected link? Thanks!

    Reply
  40. Jeannette, I copied and pasted your comment and deleted the original comment because the link was very long and threw off the spacing of the comment block. I created a tinyurl.com of your link:
    http://tinyurl.com/jm3sotw
    Though it’s a Google image search for Moby Dick rather than the cartoon you mentioned. Do you want to repost with a corrected link? Thanks!

    Reply
  41. Lovely examples of great opening lines — now I’m hooked right in and just want to read (or re-read) these books! I so agree about the excellent opening sentences you all have mentioned so far – Hitchhiker’s Guide, Silent in the Grave, Tale of Two Cities, Rebecca, Moby Dick, Anna Karenina.
    And now I want to read The Nine Tailors again, Theo! You’re right. It did keep me guessing and is one of the few that I didn’t see through sooner. Brilliant classic mystery.

    Reply
  42. Lovely examples of great opening lines — now I’m hooked right in and just want to read (or re-read) these books! I so agree about the excellent opening sentences you all have mentioned so far – Hitchhiker’s Guide, Silent in the Grave, Tale of Two Cities, Rebecca, Moby Dick, Anna Karenina.
    And now I want to read The Nine Tailors again, Theo! You’re right. It did keep me guessing and is one of the few that I didn’t see through sooner. Brilliant classic mystery.

    Reply
  43. Lovely examples of great opening lines — now I’m hooked right in and just want to read (or re-read) these books! I so agree about the excellent opening sentences you all have mentioned so far – Hitchhiker’s Guide, Silent in the Grave, Tale of Two Cities, Rebecca, Moby Dick, Anna Karenina.
    And now I want to read The Nine Tailors again, Theo! You’re right. It did keep me guessing and is one of the few that I didn’t see through sooner. Brilliant classic mystery.

    Reply
  44. Lovely examples of great opening lines — now I’m hooked right in and just want to read (or re-read) these books! I so agree about the excellent opening sentences you all have mentioned so far – Hitchhiker’s Guide, Silent in the Grave, Tale of Two Cities, Rebecca, Moby Dick, Anna Karenina.
    And now I want to read The Nine Tailors again, Theo! You’re right. It did keep me guessing and is one of the few that I didn’t see through sooner. Brilliant classic mystery.

    Reply
  45. Lovely examples of great opening lines — now I’m hooked right in and just want to read (or re-read) these books! I so agree about the excellent opening sentences you all have mentioned so far – Hitchhiker’s Guide, Silent in the Grave, Tale of Two Cities, Rebecca, Moby Dick, Anna Karenina.
    And now I want to read The Nine Tailors again, Theo! You’re right. It did keep me guessing and is one of the few that I didn’t see through sooner. Brilliant classic mystery.

    Reply
  46. So many first lines to pick from.
    My offering, “The bus had no business stopping where it did. We should have got straight on across the Coldingham Moor, with Dunbar to the back of us and the English border drawing ever nearer, but instead we stopped, and the shaggy-faced cattle thet lifted their heads on the far side of the fence appeared to share my surprise when the driver put the engine to an idle.” “The Shadowy Horses” by Susan Kearsley.

    Reply
  47. So many first lines to pick from.
    My offering, “The bus had no business stopping where it did. We should have got straight on across the Coldingham Moor, with Dunbar to the back of us and the English border drawing ever nearer, but instead we stopped, and the shaggy-faced cattle thet lifted their heads on the far side of the fence appeared to share my surprise when the driver put the engine to an idle.” “The Shadowy Horses” by Susan Kearsley.

    Reply
  48. So many first lines to pick from.
    My offering, “The bus had no business stopping where it did. We should have got straight on across the Coldingham Moor, with Dunbar to the back of us and the English border drawing ever nearer, but instead we stopped, and the shaggy-faced cattle thet lifted their heads on the far side of the fence appeared to share my surprise when the driver put the engine to an idle.” “The Shadowy Horses” by Susan Kearsley.

    Reply
  49. So many first lines to pick from.
    My offering, “The bus had no business stopping where it did. We should have got straight on across the Coldingham Moor, with Dunbar to the back of us and the English border drawing ever nearer, but instead we stopped, and the shaggy-faced cattle thet lifted their heads on the far side of the fence appeared to share my surprise when the driver put the engine to an idle.” “The Shadowy Horses” by Susan Kearsley.

    Reply
  50. So many first lines to pick from.
    My offering, “The bus had no business stopping where it did. We should have got straight on across the Coldingham Moor, with Dunbar to the back of us and the English border drawing ever nearer, but instead we stopped, and the shaggy-faced cattle thet lifted their heads on the far side of the fence appeared to share my surprise when the driver put the engine to an idle.” “The Shadowy Horses” by Susan Kearsley.

    Reply
  51. Wonderful post, Susan!. And great suggestions by our readers. I’m on the road, away from library, but a great opening line is from Deanna Raybourn’s Silent in the Grave. (okay, I am cheating a little because it is two sentences): “To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, ws still twitching upon the floor.”

    Reply
  52. Wonderful post, Susan!. And great suggestions by our readers. I’m on the road, away from library, but a great opening line is from Deanna Raybourn’s Silent in the Grave. (okay, I am cheating a little because it is two sentences): “To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, ws still twitching upon the floor.”

    Reply
  53. Wonderful post, Susan!. And great suggestions by our readers. I’m on the road, away from library, but a great opening line is from Deanna Raybourn’s Silent in the Grave. (okay, I am cheating a little because it is two sentences): “To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, ws still twitching upon the floor.”

    Reply
  54. Wonderful post, Susan!. And great suggestions by our readers. I’m on the road, away from library, but a great opening line is from Deanna Raybourn’s Silent in the Grave. (okay, I am cheating a little because it is two sentences): “To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, ws still twitching upon the floor.”

    Reply
  55. Wonderful post, Susan!. And great suggestions by our readers. I’m on the road, away from library, but a great opening line is from Deanna Raybourn’s Silent in the Grave. (okay, I am cheating a little because it is two sentences): “To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, ws still twitching upon the floor.”

    Reply
  56. I am very very late getting around to reading this post, but I recently read a book with a terrific opening line, “The Rebel Pirate” by Donna Thorland. “The gold was Spanish, the chest was French, the ship was American, and the captain was dead.”

    Reply
  57. I am very very late getting around to reading this post, but I recently read a book with a terrific opening line, “The Rebel Pirate” by Donna Thorland. “The gold was Spanish, the chest was French, the ship was American, and the captain was dead.”

    Reply
  58. I am very very late getting around to reading this post, but I recently read a book with a terrific opening line, “The Rebel Pirate” by Donna Thorland. “The gold was Spanish, the chest was French, the ship was American, and the captain was dead.”

    Reply
  59. I am very very late getting around to reading this post, but I recently read a book with a terrific opening line, “The Rebel Pirate” by Donna Thorland. “The gold was Spanish, the chest was French, the ship was American, and the captain was dead.”

    Reply
  60. I am very very late getting around to reading this post, but I recently read a book with a terrific opening line, “The Rebel Pirate” by Donna Thorland. “The gold was Spanish, the chest was French, the ship was American, and the captain was dead.”

    Reply
  61. Another late entry:
    “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”
    – C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

    Reply
  62. Another late entry:
    “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”
    – C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

    Reply
  63. Another late entry:
    “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”
    – C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

    Reply
  64. Another late entry:
    “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”
    – C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

    Reply
  65. Another late entry:
    “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”
    – C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

    Reply
  66. Take my camel, dear”, said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass.
    My second favourite opening line, after Deanna Raybourn, from Rose Macauley’s “The Towers of Trebizond”

    Reply
  67. Take my camel, dear”, said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass.
    My second favourite opening line, after Deanna Raybourn, from Rose Macauley’s “The Towers of Trebizond”

    Reply
  68. Take my camel, dear”, said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass.
    My second favourite opening line, after Deanna Raybourn, from Rose Macauley’s “The Towers of Trebizond”

    Reply
  69. Take my camel, dear”, said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass.
    My second favourite opening line, after Deanna Raybourn, from Rose Macauley’s “The Towers of Trebizond”

    Reply
  70. Take my camel, dear”, said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass.
    My second favourite opening line, after Deanna Raybourn, from Rose Macauley’s “The Towers of Trebizond”

    Reply
  71. “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking 13”. George Orwell, 1984
    “Penitence Hurd and the plague arrived in London on the same day.” Diana Norman, The Vizard Mask
    “He was born with a gift of laughter, and a sense that the world was mad.” Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouche

    Reply
  72. “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking 13”. George Orwell, 1984
    “Penitence Hurd and the plague arrived in London on the same day.” Diana Norman, The Vizard Mask
    “He was born with a gift of laughter, and a sense that the world was mad.” Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouche

    Reply
  73. “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking 13”. George Orwell, 1984
    “Penitence Hurd and the plague arrived in London on the same day.” Diana Norman, The Vizard Mask
    “He was born with a gift of laughter, and a sense that the world was mad.” Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouche

    Reply
  74. “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking 13”. George Orwell, 1984
    “Penitence Hurd and the plague arrived in London on the same day.” Diana Norman, The Vizard Mask
    “He was born with a gift of laughter, and a sense that the world was mad.” Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouche

    Reply
  75. “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking 13”. George Orwell, 1984
    “Penitence Hurd and the plague arrived in London on the same day.” Diana Norman, The Vizard Mask
    “He was born with a gift of laughter, and a sense that the world was mad.” Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouche

    Reply
  76. Felt I should point out, since no one has done so, that “it was a dark and stormy night” is not original to Madeline L’Engle. It’s actually the opening of Edward Bulwer Lytton’s “Paul Clifford). There’s even a bad writing contest based on this. Personally, I think that if Bulwer-Lytton had stopped there it would be a fine opening. It’s when you see the whole sentence with its semicolon, dash, AND parenthetical statement that you wish he had taken a deep breath and an axe: “It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.” — Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, “Paul Clifford” (1830)

    Reply
  77. Felt I should point out, since no one has done so, that “it was a dark and stormy night” is not original to Madeline L’Engle. It’s actually the opening of Edward Bulwer Lytton’s “Paul Clifford). There’s even a bad writing contest based on this. Personally, I think that if Bulwer-Lytton had stopped there it would be a fine opening. It’s when you see the whole sentence with its semicolon, dash, AND parenthetical statement that you wish he had taken a deep breath and an axe: “It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.” — Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, “Paul Clifford” (1830)

    Reply
  78. Felt I should point out, since no one has done so, that “it was a dark and stormy night” is not original to Madeline L’Engle. It’s actually the opening of Edward Bulwer Lytton’s “Paul Clifford). There’s even a bad writing contest based on this. Personally, I think that if Bulwer-Lytton had stopped there it would be a fine opening. It’s when you see the whole sentence with its semicolon, dash, AND parenthetical statement that you wish he had taken a deep breath and an axe: “It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.” — Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, “Paul Clifford” (1830)

    Reply
  79. Felt I should point out, since no one has done so, that “it was a dark and stormy night” is not original to Madeline L’Engle. It’s actually the opening of Edward Bulwer Lytton’s “Paul Clifford). There’s even a bad writing contest based on this. Personally, I think that if Bulwer-Lytton had stopped there it would be a fine opening. It’s when you see the whole sentence with its semicolon, dash, AND parenthetical statement that you wish he had taken a deep breath and an axe: “It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.” — Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, “Paul Clifford” (1830)

    Reply
  80. Felt I should point out, since no one has done so, that “it was a dark and stormy night” is not original to Madeline L’Engle. It’s actually the opening of Edward Bulwer Lytton’s “Paul Clifford). There’s even a bad writing contest based on this. Personally, I think that if Bulwer-Lytton had stopped there it would be a fine opening. It’s when you see the whole sentence with its semicolon, dash, AND parenthetical statement that you wish he had taken a deep breath and an axe: “It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.” — Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, “Paul Clifford” (1830)

    Reply

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