Five For Friday: Opening Lines

Hi SE Readers. Hope the New Year is starting out right for you. It’s the first Friday of the month (and the year), and that means it’s time for another Five for Friday post.

Recently, Staci Troilo shared about the importance of grabbing the reader in the opening paragraph, or if possible, the opening line. (Click here to read her post.) I had already been thinking about opening lines. Today I’m going to share the opening of five novels. Except for one book, I read these novels more than ten years ago. Obviously, they caught my attention.

The hell of it was that it couldn’t have been a better day for flying. Mirror Image by Sandra Brown

Right away, I think there will be a plane crash, and that opens up a realm of possibilities. Who dies? What happens to the heroine? From the title, I assume she has a look alike.

I cannot believe I am standing in the exact spot where I was standing when I killed my mother. No Place Like Home by Mary Higgins Clark

Okay, enough said. Written in first person present, we know the main character killed her mother. Or did she?

Down to the last day, even the last hour now. I’m an old man, lonely and unloved, sick and hurting and tired of living. I am ready for the hereafter; it has to be better than this. The Testament by John Gresham

The Testament is probably my favorite book by this author. The opening lines tell me an old man is about to end his life. What will happen next?

Dead bodies have a way of changing everything. When Night Comes by Dan Walsh

It goes without saying someone is about to find a body. And since I like murder mysteries, the opening line intrigued me.

I know about Masenier because I was there. I seen him die. Gap Creek by Robert Morgan

I learned of Gap Creek through a friend who was reading it. She recommended the book, and when I read the first paragraph, I was hooked. Not only does the opening tell me the main character witnessed a death, but it also says a bit about the person because the author used dialect.

Granted, the editor in me would have rephrased a couple of these lines. But when you’re a New York Times bestselling author, you can get by with not so perfect grammar.

Now it’s your turn. Would you read any of these books based on the opening? What are some opening lines of books that captured your attention? Please share in the comments.

47 thoughts on “Five For Friday: Opening Lines

  1. Fantastic post, Joan! I loved the opening lines you shared and it shows their power. One of the most powerful books I’ve ever read is “Empty Chairs,” written by Suzanne Burke. It starts like this: “There is no place to start this but right at the beginning with my first memories. The sexual abuse began, I think, around the age of three.” This is a true story and had to be extremely difficult for Soooz to write, but those opening lines immediately let us know this is not going to be a fairy tale.
    Another book I read that has lingered with me since the last page was “Pennies From Burger Heaven” by Marcy McKay. Here are her opening lines: “Me and Mama live here at the cemetery, by the Warrior Angel Statue. It’s our home.”
    This is a story about a young girl who lives on the streets with her mother and even though it is fiction, it is such a believable gripping tale.
    Thanks so much for sharing, Joan, and reminding us of the importance of those opening lines!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I bought this book from a clearance table for twenty-five cents. It’s the first book in Kushiel’s Legacy by Jacqueline Carrey, Kushiel’s Dart.
    The opening line: Lest anyone should suppose that I am a cuckoo’s child, got on the wrong side of the blanket by lust peasant stock and sold into indenture in a short-fallen season, I may say that I am House-born and reared in the Night Court proper, for all the good it did me.

    I had to know. What would happen to this girl sold into slavery? And the series did not disappoint.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I just typed a huge comment, and it disappeared. (The “post comment” button was gone, and when I refreshed, I lost it. Sigh.)

    Long story short, I referred to S. E. Hinton’s THE OUTSIDERS opening line: When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.

    It goes against everything we teach now. It poses a question, though nothing so dire that I HAVE to know more. It’s followed with a character description instead of plot advancement. It uses a colon instead of an em dash.

    But it stuck with me all these years. And it kept me reading. In fact, I reread the book dozens of times (which is probably why I remember the first line). So I guess the author wrote a successful first line (at least for me), even if it isn’t the best.

    Great post, Joan.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I like the last one best. The dialect on that really grabs me!
    I think I mentioned this opening line on Staci’s post:
    “On the day that he would first meet Thomas Edison, Paul watched a man burn alive in the sky above Broadway.”
    That’s from The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore.
    I’ve read a number of books with great opening lines but that one really stuck with me.
    Nice post, Joan!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. All of those are intriguing, Joan, and I can see how they pulled you right in.

    My most unforgettable opening line comes from my favorite book of all time. “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” I read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier when I was twelve, 62 years ago. It was published in 1938 and to this day, I’ve never read an opening line I loved more. (Though I’ve certainly read some wonderful ones). But this one set the tone for a haunting gothic story with some of the best-defined characters in fiction. It was made into a wonderfully dark, noirish film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1940 (still four years before I was born) and both the book and the movie are so worth reading, even today. Yes, it was a different time, and society has changed, but that makes it even more interesting, I think.

    Great, thought-provoking post!

    Liked by 3 people

      • Daphne du Maurier is who I want to be when I grow up. 😀 I’ve read everything she’s ever written, and her writing is exquisite! Plus she has a wicked sense of irony or poetic justice or something. The twists at the ends of her books are always shocking. (I think that’s why Hitchcock liked her stories so much. He based his movie The Birds on a short story of hers, for instance.) Several of her books were made into classic films, like My Cousin, Rachel and Jamaica Inn. Hope you check out Rebecca. I loved it so much, it’s my daughter’s middle name. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Love those first lines, Joan. My favourite of the five has to be: Dead bodies have a way of changing everything.

    A great opening first line that sticks with me is from one of my all-time favourite series The Hunger Games. From book one: When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. … That immediately has me wanting to read on.

    Thanks for a fun Five For Friday post, Joan 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Dead bodies have a way of changing everything. That line certainly grabs the attention!
    This is one of my favorites from a book I recently read:
    POP QUIZZES WERE KILLERS. LIKE AMBUSHING assassins they elicited fear and loathing in the prey, and a certain heady power in the hunter.

    Robb, J. D.. Innocent In Death (In Death, Book 24) (p. 2). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

    Filled with power words, it hints at the storyline all in 2 lines. Well done!

    Liked by 3 people

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