Mar 14, 2011

Catchy First Lines

Reading: Abandon the Night by Joss Ware
Watching: American Idol
Listening to: Lady Gaga
Making me smile: Tiny little baby clothes

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately and was wondering exactly what it is that makes some books suck you in right from the beginning while others can take a little longer to warm up.

I came to the conclusion that there is no simple answer: its great characters, beautiful description, a unique hook, great action, intense emotion, excellent pacing…the list goes on.

But one thing that certainly helps is a catchy first line.

There are some awesome first lines out there in books of all genres. Here are some of my favourites:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. ~ Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. ~ 1984 by George Orwell

There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. ~The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis

Had Eidolon been anywhere but the hospital, he would have killed the guy pleading for his life before him. ~ Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione

Ross Wakeman succeeded the first time he killed himself, but not the second or the third. ~ Second Glance by Jodi Picoult

Our own LoveCats are pretty catchy in the first line department as well:

Who knew silence came in so many shades? ~ Friends to Forever by Nikki Logan

He was staring at her again. ~ At the Billionaire’s Beck and Call by Rachel Bailey

Knees gone weak, Phoebe Moore drank in the sight of two bronzed arms angling down over a well-packed T-shirt and large masculine hands raising its black interlock hem. ~ Every Girl's Secret Fantasy by Robyn Grady

And from my latest Nocturne Bites:

She needed a man. ~ One Night with the Wolf by Anna Hackett

So, do you have any favourite first lines? Lines that dragged you into a book and left you wanting more? Lines that have always stuck in your head long after you’ve finished reading.


  1. "I'm pregnant, and you're the father!" does it for me every time!

  2. Isn't the opening line of P&P fabulous, Anna?! I totally sets the tone of the book -- as a good opening line should!

    I really like the opening of Welcome to Temptation by Jenny Crusie -- something about clouds bouncing across the blue, blue sky and hating people who drive beige cadillacs ... I think ... it's in storage at the moment, so I can't look it up!

  3. P.S. Meant to say -- congrats on your release!!

  4. I love opening lines, Anna. Pride and Prejudice is one of my all time faves. Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar and Nabokov's Lolita both have brilliant opening lines too. A did-I-read-that-right opening line is from Carol Shields' The Republic of love -- "As a baby, Tom Avery had twenty-seven mothers." Cool, huh?

    Another all-time fave is from Du Maurier's Rebecca: "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again." It just flows off the tongue perfectly don't you think?

    Gotta say, I love "She needed a man."

  5. Great first line Anna! Amazing how they stick in mind too isn't it =))

  6. You've hooked me with 'She needed a man' :))

  7. Hi Emily --
    The first line of P&P is my absolute fav! It does embody the entire story perfectly.

    I found the Crusie first line and it's a good one: "Sophie Dempsey didn't like Temptation even before the Garveys smashed into her '86 Civic, broke her sister's sunglasses, and confirmed all her worst suspicions about people from small towns who drove beige Cadillacs."

    The clouds were in line 3! Oh, and Thanks for the congrats on my release (-:

  8. Hi Michelle --
    I almost put the Lolita line in my post!! It is a great one. The Shields one is excellent and I think many a romance writer knows the first line of Rebecca.

    Glad you liked mine too (-:

  9. Thanks, Mel! It is amazing how great lines stick in the head.

  10. Hi Anna,

    Yep, the first line of ONWTW is a doozy! :)

    This one from Kristan Higgins' ALL I EVER WANTED stuck in my mind for ages after I read it:

    'As the man I loved approached my office, the image of a a deer being hit by a truck came to mind.  I was the deer, metaphorically speaking, and Mark Rousseau was the pickup truck of doom.'

    I love the Orwell one, too.

    So, Anna. Tiny baby clothes, eh? They are very cute. Just wait until you get to dress bubs. It's awesome. Big congrats to you and Mr Anna. Wishing you all big love! Xx

  11. Hi Em --
    The Higgins line is a great one!

    Thanks for the congrats -- I still find it hard to believe I'll soon have a being tiny enough to fit into the clothes (-:

  12. Aw, Anna, thanks for including the first line of Beck & Call. That was the first line I wrote in the book (not that common - I often go back and rewrite the start), but that line summed up a lot about their relationship. And I still remember writing it - I was sitting at a cafe.:)

    I love those first lines you've listed - P&P, of course, and all the Jenny Crusie books have great first lines. ONWTW is obviously one I need to buy!

    And Susan Elizabeth Philips has some fabulous ones: "The day Kevin Tucker nearly killed her, Molly Somerville swore off unrequited love forever." From This Heart of Mine.

    Liz Fielding has some great first lines too!