Great Opening Lines

Terrible Opening Lines

Begin with Description

It was an odd-looking vine.  Dusky variegated leaves hunkered against a stem that wound in a stranglehold around the trunk of a balsam fir. 

Terry Goodkind
Wizard's First Rule

The boy with the fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way toward the lagoon.  Though he had taken off his school sweater and trailed it now from one hand, his gray shirt stuck to him and his hair was plastered to his forehead.

William Golding
Lord of the Flies

Begin with Action

The last bell had rung.  He was almost out of the gates.  And then they grabbed him and marched him back, around to the locker room at the side of the school.

Graham Gardner
Inventing Elliot

     They didn't say anything about this in the books, I thought, as the snow blew in through the gaping doorway and settled on my naked back. 
     I lay face down on the cobbled floor in a pool of nameless muck, my arm deep inside the straining cow, my feet scrabbling for a toe hold between the stones.  I was stripped to the waist and the snow mingled with the dirt and the dried blood on my body.

James Herriot
All Creatures Great and Small

Begin with a cliché

Once there was a girl…
It all began when…
It all began the day that…
One day, there was…
One day,
[character] was...

(Gee, never heard any of  those before.)

Begin with boredom or Inactivity

Sandy was bored.  A three-day weekend was before her with all her friends out of town.  She was sure there would be nothing to do…(The reader is now as bored as she is.)

The Biography

Marks Summershill goes to West Grand Rapids High School.  He lives with his mom visits his dad and step-mom on the weekends.  He has a dog named bofer.  His little sister and he don't get along…  (Can you say info-dump?  Can't this information come out in the story?) 

Begin with Dialogue

     "Too many!" James shouted, and slammed the door behind him.
     "What?" said Will.
     "Too many kids in this family, that's what."

Susan Cooper
The Dark is Rising

     "I've watched through his eyes, I've listened through his ears, and I tell you he's the one.  Or at least as close as we're going to get."
     "That's what you said about the brother." 

Orson Scott Card
Ender's Game

Begin with a Character Observing

Brian Robeson stared out the window of the small plane at the endless green northern wilderness below. 

Gary Paulsen

Get a  second opinion about opening lines.