I remember reading a book by Scarlett Archer, 1001 First liners, where she said “A good first line cracks like a bull whip.” And I couldn’t agree more. Many writing how to books stress the importance of the first line not only for the beginning of your novel but some go as far as recommending captivating first lines for each chapter.
Here are a few examples of first lines that dazzled me:
“The last person who called me by my true name was my mother, with her dying breath.” ~ Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian
“Ten years ago, on my sixth birthday, my father disappeared.” ~ The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
“She smelled like mothballs and death.” ~ Half-Blood: The First Covenant Novel by Jennifer L. Armentrout
“I offered my hand to the fire.” ~ Frostblood by Elly Blake
“I hate having to dress like a man.” ~ Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller
“They called the world beyond the walls of the Pod “The Death Shop”” ~ Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
“My mother thinks I’m dead.” ~ Legend (A Legend Novel, Book 1) by Marie Lu
“They’re coming.” ~ Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
“An ax swings for my head.” ~ Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller
“I’m going to die tomorrow morning.” ~ The Young Elites by Marie Lu
“You should never get used to the smell of rotting corpses.” ~ Part-Time Monster Hunter (Kat Drummond Book 1) by Nicholas Woode-Smith
Of course having a fantastic first line doesn’t guarantee that the story will blow your mind away, nor does not having one mean the story is not worth your time. A prime example of mediocre first lines is Pawn and Knight by Karen Lynch. I adore these books but it did take a few pages of the first book Pawn to draw me in.
Great first lines aren’t the be all end all, but they certainly do a lot at gaining your readers attention.
Have you come across any that have grabbed your attention?