Favorite opening lines

In any novel, there’s no line more important than the first.  The opener has to pull the reader in.  It has to grab us, shock us, interest us, do something that will make us decide to delve into the story.  Having recently had an interesting conversation regarding the best opening lines in literature, I decided to list a few of my favorites on this blog:


It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

-George Orwell, 1984

I am a sick man… I am a spiteful man.

-Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from the Underground

If you’re going to read this, don’t bother.

-Chuck Palahniuk, Choke

It was a pleasure to burn.

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

All this happened, more or less.

-Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five

The man in black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed.

-Stephen King, The Gunslinger

And of course, we’ll finish with the all-time classic, translated to English from the original German:

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.

-Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis

If you guys have any other favorites to list, feel free to post them below!  Also, before I go, a quick reminder:  this Saturday, I’ll be reading from The Cage Legacy at Books & Boos, from 5 to 7pm.

Till next time,

-Nicholas Conley

5 thoughts on “Favorite opening lines

  1. Those are good! I mostly don’t remember the first line that well, because I’m too eager to read on.. I did like the first pharagraph of Lolita though.
    I’m not a real writer, but the things I write only seem to work out as soon as I get the first line good – if that one comes to my mind, the rest will turn out fine as well.

    • Definitely a good strategy. Getting that first line right is always one of the big hurdles to overcome; there’s been times where I’ve struggled to come up with it, only for inspiration to suddenly hit me when I’m driving, showering, doing the dishes or so on.

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