Every book starts someplace, right?
I have a ADD. Not the type where I’m bouncing off walls all hours of the night, but I struggle with sitting down to concentrate. So when most people say that if you can’t engage your reader after twenty pages, then you’ve failed- I want to laugh. Why? Because with me, it’s much less.
Is that fair? No. But it’s reality. I have two kids under the age of two and a busy life outside of the home. My time is very valuable and I don’t have a lot of extra minutes to wait and see if a book will draw me in.
That’s why I always look at the first line.
I notice right away if a book is going to hold me long enough to get to the end. Basically, I want to be pulled into a story right away.
I love this Quote by Stephen King-
“A book won’t stand or fall on the very first line of prose — the story has got to be there, and that’s the real work. And yet a really good first line can do so much to establish that crucial sense of voice — it’s the first thing that acquaints you, that makes you eager, that starts to enlist you for the long haul. So there’s incredible power in it, when you say, come in here. You want to know about this. And someone begins to listen.” – Stephen King
Below are some of my favorites that I’ve collected. For some strange reason that first sentence in these stories pulled me into the pages and captivated me. They may not work the same for you. And that’s fine. But for me, they did what they should have done.
“It Was A Pleasure to Burn.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
“You’ve Been here before.” – Stephen King, Needful Things
“On the second day of December, in a year when a Georgia Peanut Farmer was doing business in the White House, one of Colorado’s great resort hotels burned to the ground.” – Stephen King, Dr. Sleep
“There was once a time when only God knew the day you’d die.” – Nadine Brandes, A Time to Die
“Tonight we’re going to show you eight silent ways to kill a man.” – Joe Haldeman, The Forever War
“I did two things on my seventy- fifth birthday. I visited my wife’s grave. Then I joined the army.” – John Scalzi, Old Man’s War
“Szeth-son-son-Vallano, Truthless of Shinover, wore white on the day he was to kill a king.” – Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings
‘”I’ve watched through his eyes, I’ve listened through his ears, and I tell you he’s the one.'” – Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking 13.” 1984, George Orwell.
“It was raining the night he found me.” Tosca Lee, Demon
Now these aren’t a full list of all my favorites- But they are ones that pulled me in and kept me longing for an answer to the questions they posed in my mind…
What are some of your favorites…?