In writing, as in dating, a lot of attention is paid to opening lines.
Do opening lines really have the ability to draw a potential
Here are 13 opening lines (from novels) that managed to grab my attention and set off my imagination:
'The building was on fire, and it wasn't my fault.'
Jim Butcher (Blood Rites)
'Some years ago there was in the city of York a society of magicians. They met upon the third Wednesday of every month and read each other long, dull papers upon the history of English magic.'
Susanna Clarke (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell)
'If I am out of my mind, it’s alright with me, thought Moses Herzog.'
Saul Bellow (Herzog)
'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)
'The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.'
William Gibson (Neuromancer)
'It was the day my grandmother exploded.'
Iain Banks (The Crow Road)
'It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.'
Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Love in the Time of Cholera)
'It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not.'
Paul Auster (City of Glass)
'All children, except one, grow up.'
J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan)
'It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York.'
Sylvia Plath (The Bell Jar)
'I looked at my notes and I didn't like them. I'd spent three days at U.S. Robots and might as well have spent them at home with the Encyclopedia Tellurica.'
Isaac Asimov (I, Robot)
'The night before he went to London, Richard Mayhew was not enjoying himself.'
Neil Gaiman (Neverwhere)
'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.'
J.R.R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings)
What are your favourite opening lines?
Image: 'beware of dog' by Justin Lincoln. Available under a creative commons license. © 2006, Justin Lincoln.