What a great opening line does for your story:
- It engages the reader
- It sets up the voice of the story
We pull them from somewhere obtuse and smack them on our book. I’ve seen opening lines that have absolutely nothing to do with the book. A line floating from somewhere ominous and you wonder while reading the first page: What does that mean? What does that have to do with the story? You’re readers shouldn’t have to guess about things like that. If they do, they may not continue reading.
What’s a “good” opening line? Honestly, I can’t tell you that either. For every book, it’s different. What it must have, however, is:
- Some relevance to the story – even if it’s a random thought, make it relatable to the story in some way
- Something that will draw the reader in and hold their attention
However, I caution you. Don’t try to perfect the opening line while you write the first draft. It’s nearly impossible. Stories change into something wholly different at the end. You’re wasting your time trying to perfect a line at the draft stage that will invariably be different in the end. I changed my opening lines about 10 times. So wait until you’ve completed the first draft, stored the novel away for a while (getting your fresh eyes ready), then and only then will you be able to write an effective opening line.
I found an awesome article on opening lines here that has awesome examples of opening lines and why they are effective.
Some of my favorite opening lines:
“LISTEN TO ME” --- James Patterson, Witch and Wizard: The Gift -- YA
Everyone thinks it was because of the snow. ---Gayle Forman, If I Stay – YA (contemporary fiction)
I knew it would begin with the end, and the end would look like death to these eyes.—Stephanie Meyer, The Host, Science fiction (Adult)
Maybe if I had loved her less there would have been no murder – Andrew Klavan, Man and Wife, Thriller (Adult)
Streeter only saw the sign because he had to pull over and puke. – Stephen King, Full Dark No Stars; Fair Extension (story # 3) Horror, Suspense (Adult)
My opening line from my current WIP:
If the twilight zone was a place, I was there – The Chloe Chronicles and the Rebirth – YA, paranormal
What is your opening line? Are you satisfied with it? Do you have any tips on how to improve your opening lines?
Have a great day. Read a book and laugh.