Saturday, September 18, 2010

Opening Lines & Bars

Think back to your favorite song.  Do you think your eyes light up when you hear those first opening bars of music?

Most people know I'm a country music fanatic.  One of my favorite songs is "My Maria"* by Brooks & Dunn.  I love those first opening bars of music.  (I think that's why it's one of my favorites, actually.)  It's really upbeat and it's just a few notes.  Those few notes go a long way.

As far as opening lines go...

"Well, I love her/but I love to fish." - "I'm Gonna Miss Her"* by Brad Paisley <--One of my favorite opening lines to a song.

Okay, let's go to books now before I launch into all my favorite country songs.  Or songs of other genres for that matter.

*Neither of those YouTube links go to the official videos.  The official videos have advertisements.

In your favorite book, is the opening line your favorite part?  Or even the first scene?  An opening hook can make or break a book for me whether or not I'll read it.  Since books speak for themselves, here's some best-sellers/well-known classics' openings that I was able to pull from my bookshelf:

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." - (like you honestly don't recognize this passage but it's from:) Genesis 1:1, the Bible (best-selling, classic, life-manual...)

"When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton." -(Again, do I really need to put where this one's from?) The Fellowship of the Ring, by J. R. R. Tolkien, (classic, best-seller)

"Mr. Utterson the lawyer was a man of a rugged countenance that was never lightened by a smile; cold, scanty and embarrassed in discourse; backward in sentiment; lean, long, dusty, dreary and yet somehow lovable." -Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson (classic)

"Taran wanted to make a sword; but Coll, charged with the practical side of his education, decided on horseshoes." -The Book of Three, by Lloyd Alexander (first book of a best-selling series, may be considered a children's classic)

As a reader, some of my favorite books have these lines that just suck you into the story. Now, all of those may or may not be well-known works, but I tried to stick to the classics on my own 'read' bookshelves.

Some of my personal favorite openings that may or may not be well-known:

"Linderwall was a large kingdom, just east of the Mountains of Morning, where philosophers were highly respected and the number five was fashionable. The climate was unremarkable. The knights kept their armor brightly polished mainly for show--it had been centuries since a dragon had come this far east. There was the usual periodic problems with royal children and uninvited fairy godmothers, but they were always the sort of thing that could be cleared up by finding the proper prince or princess to marry the unfortunate child a few years later. All in all, Linderwall was a very prosperous and pleasant place.

"Cimorene hated it." -Dealing with Dragons, by Patricia C. Wrede (beginning of a bestselling children's series)
"'You, my lord, are a rake and a rogue. A scoundrel.'" -The Wedding Bargain, by Victoria Alexander (NYT Bestseller)

"I saw Byzantium in a dream, and knew that I would die there." -Byzantium, by Stephen R. Lawhead (I don't think this book was a best-seller, but SRL has others that were. This one just so happens to be my favorite standalone.

Well, lovers of books and reading, those are some opening lines that others or I thought were great.  How can you not love a book that begins like some of those do?


  1. Oh that one by Lawhead is a good one. I seriously have to work on my opening. I'm not in love with it yet. :(
    I bet the first five pages get soooo much more work in general.

  2. I agree whole-heartedly. There's a whole book just about the first five pages. I probably need to get that one....


No profanity.