Top Ten Tuesday: Best Opening Lines

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted byΒ That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is best opening lines. When I first saw this topic, half of the following opening lines immediately popped into my head. That’s the power of a good opening line or paragraph – it draws you in and sticks with you long after you’ve completed the novel. Some are short and punchy; some lyrical and mysterious. All intrigue the reader to dive into the story, and inspire writers to craft a kick-ass introduction.

My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die.

I counted.

It happened on the Jellicoe Road. The prettiest road I’d ever seen, where trees made breezy canopies like a tunnel to Shangri-la. We were going to the ocean, hundreds of miles away, because I wanted to see the ocean and my father said it was about time the four of us made that journey. I remember asking, “What’s the difference between a trip and a journey?” and my father said, “Narnie, my love, when we get there, you’ll understand,” and that was the last thing he ever said.

Melina Marchetta, Jellicoe Road (prologue)

I’m dreaming of the boy in the tree and at the exact moment I’m about to hear the answer that I’ve been waiting for, the flashlights yank me out of what could have been one of those perfect moments of clarity people talk about for the rest of their lives.

Melina Marchetta, Jellicoe Road (opening to chapter 1)

The first thing I learned about Travis Becker was that he parked his motorcycle on the front lawn. You could see the tracks of it all the way up that rolling hill, cutting deeply into the beautiful, golf course-like grass. That should have told me all I needed to know, right there.

Deb Caletti, Honey, Baby, Sweetheart

I am sixteen when my mother steps out of her skin one frozen January afternoon – pure self, atoms twinkling like microscopic diamond chips around her, perhaps the chiming of a clock, or a few bright flute notes in the distance – and disappears.

No one sees her leave, but she is gone.

Laura Kasischke, White Bird in a Blizzard

We went wild that hot night. We howled, we raged, we screamed. We were girls – some of us fourteen and fifteen; some sixteen, seventeen – but when the locks came undone, the doors of our cells gaping open and no one to shove us back in, we made the noise of savage animals, of men.

Nova Ren Suma, The Walls Around Us

The day my father got remarried, my mother was up at six A.M. defrosting the refrigerator.

Sarah Dessen, That Summer

I was seventeen years old when I saw my first dead body. It wasn’t my cousin Oslo’s. It was a woman who looked to have been around fifty or at least in her late forties. She didn’t have any visible bullet holes or scratches, cuts, or bruises, so I assumed that she had just died of some disease or something; her body barely hidden by the thin white sheet as it awaited its placement in the lockers. The second dead body I ever saw was my cousin Oslo’s. I recognized his dirty brown shoes immediately as the woman wearing the bright white coat grasped the metallic handle and yanked hard to slide the body out from the silvery wall.

John Corey Whaley, Where Things Come Back

Bev says when she’s onstage she feels the world holding its breath for her. She feels electric, louder than a thousand wailing sirens, more powerful than God.

Nina LaCour, The Disenchantments

It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.

Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

We wanted more. We knocked the butt ends of our forks against the table, tapped our spoons against our empty bowls; we were hungry. We wanted more volume, more riots. We turned up the knob on the TV until our ears ached with the shouts of angry men. We wanted more music on the radio; we wanted beats; we wanted rock. We wanted muscles on our skinny arms. We had bird bones, hollow and light, and we wanted more density, more weight. We were six snatching hands, six stomping feet; we were brothers, boys, three little kings locked in a feud for more.

Justin Torres, We the Animals

The places we are born come back. They disguise themselves as migraines, stomach aches, insomnia. They are the way we sometimes wake falling, fumbling for the bedside lamp, certain everything we’ve built has gone in the night. We become strangers to the places we are born. They would not recognize us but we will always recognize them. They are marrow to us; they are bred into us. If we were turned inside out there would be maps cut into the wrong side of our skin. Just so we could find our way back. Except, cut wrong side into my skin are not canals and train tracks and a boat, but always: you.

Daisy Johnson, Everything Under

15 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Best Opening Lines”

  1. This is a great list! I haven’t read any of these books, but I’m really intrigued now. Especially by White Bird in a Blizzard!

    Like

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