One of the challenges in writing these days is to grab readers attention in the initial sentences——as early as possible. If you can’t capture their attention in the first few lines, they’ll leave you.
In this article, I have listed some of my favorite opening lines——in descending order; so if you want to check my top opening line, plunge right down to the bottom.
I have omitted some of the biggies. So No, ‘Call me Ishmael’; as much I want to include it, I somehow, didn’t connect to it. In the future, I might add new ones, or drop the existing ones. But right now these are my favorites.
Here they go…
This one is from one of the initial books written in the history of literature. Cervantes is very casual and confident.
Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing.—Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (1605)
Mother died today.
—Albert Camus, The Stranger (1942)
Though Papa Hemingway is not my favorite author, this below line makes it to the list. I have made several tries at cracking his books, no success yet.
He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the—Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea (1952)
Gulf Streamand he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925)
If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.—J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the
For long, Proust was top on my list. But, sadly, I have to push him to the third position.
Reading, In Search Of Lost Time is in my every
year’s pending resolution list. And, often, it’s the only pending item. I hope
to read this Elephant one day.
For a long time I used to go to bed early. Sometimes, when I had put out my candle, my eyes would close so quickly that I had not even time to say “I’m going to sleep.” And half an hour later the thought that it was time to go to sleep would awaken me; I would try to put away the book which, I imagined, was still in my hands, and to blow out the light; I had been thinking all the time, while I was asleep, of what I had just been reading, but my thoughts had run into a channel of their own, until I myself seemed actually to have become the subject of my book…-Marcel Proust,In Search Of Lost Time (1913)
If you haven’t read One Hundred years of Solitude, I highly recommend it. It’s written very beautifully.
Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.—Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967)
And, here it is my top favorite.
When Augustus came out on the porch the blue pigs were eating a rattlesnake—not a very big one. It had probably just been crawling around looking for shade when it ran into the pigs. They were having a fine tug-of-war with it, and its rattling days were over.
― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove (1985)