Exercise: Best first lines

If you love reading, then chances are, you’ve been ensnared by first lines more often than you can count. Like me, you’ve been hooked by Tolstoy’s assertion that “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”, or by Jane Austen wryly outlining “a truth universally acknowledged”. Such lines just seem to buzz with possibilities. So why not use them to make something new? Just pick one of your favourite first lines, write it at the top of the page, and continue the story wherever it takes you.

Here’s some of my favourites to get you started, but of course you can find hundreds of best first lines on the internet (use your procrastination for good!) Or raid your bookshelves and share your favourites below.

  • In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.  —F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
  • Sth, I know that woman.  —Toni Morrison, Jazz
  • First the colours. Then the humans. That’s usually how I see things. Or at least, how I try. —Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
  • 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.  —Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
  • It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.  —George Orwell, 1984
  • I drove to the doctor’s office as if I were starring in a movie Phillip was watching – windows down, hair blowing, just one hand on the wheel.  —Miranda July, The First Bad Man

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: