If you’ve ever finished a story-writing unit in English, than you most likely would have heard of the ‘Sizzling Start!” I know I definitely have. It’s been drilled in over and over, year after year, and while it does begin to get a little repetitive, it is, of course, very valuable advice. How many times have you started a book, knowing nothing about it, but never finishing it just because its opening wasn’t good enough? A few times? Yeah me too. But let’s not look at the bad ones. (Maybe that can be another post. My english teacher once read out some examples of stories from past students of his, that he found were both terrible and hilarious. I might have to go find some…) Here are some of my favourite first lines (in no particular order) I’ve either read myself, or heard of:
“Ironically, since the attacks, the sunsets have been glorious.”
Angelfall by Susan Ee
The Angelfall books are quite good, very interesting, (a bit underrated if you ask me), and defied a lot of stereotypes. While initially, it was the cover that caught my eye, once I read the first line, I was pretty much hooked from there on in.
“The great grey beast February had eaten Harvey Swick alive.”
The Thief of Always by Clive Barker
This one’s definitely one of my favourites – both book and first line!!
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
1984 by George Orwell
I have yet to actually read this one, but it’s getting very close to the top of my pile, and I’ve heard this quote many a time. I think it captures people, just because of how it normal it starts out, and how very alien it ends.
“It was a dark and stormy night.”
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Oh how I love this one!! When I read this the first time, I don’t remember commenting on it, but after re-reading it again recently, I actually laughed. Just because it’s the exact line school teachers tell you never to use. I don’t know whether they say that because of this book, or whether L’Engle used it because teachers say it, but I love it.
“There are 158 footsteps between the bus stop and home, but it can stretch to 180 if you aren’t in a hurry, like maybe if you’re wearing platform shoes.”
Me Before You Jojo Moyes
This one’s not exactly the first line of the book, because there’s a prologue, but it’s the first line of chapter 1. At first, it’s interesting, but not too notable… until you get to the platform shoes. That makes it for me.
“It was a pleasure to burn.”
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451 is just one of the ones that makes you go, “Wait what?” A very unconventional start, to quite a unconventional book
“In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit.”
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The simplicity is what makes this one so effective. It introduces the main character, the setting of Middle Earth, and links Lord of the Rings in, all at the same time.
“First the colours. Then the humans. That’s usually how I see things. Or at least how I try.
~Here is a small fact~
You are going to die.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I realise that this is actually quite a few lines, but it’s worth it. The many simple sentences all work together, and then the bit underneath is, again the “Wait, what?” I really love those little bolded bits in The Book Thief, and how they almost tell their own story.
“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral Arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.”
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Douglas Adams’ has quite a few one-liners that ultimately make this book what it is. I also love: “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.” I quote that one all the time!!
“The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.”
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
This one’s another recent read for me – one I absolutely loved!! One of the major reasons I enjoyed it so much was the language used, showcased perfectly in this first line.
“Grandpa stopped speaking the day he killed my brother, John.”
Bird by Crystal Chan
Juxtaposed quotes really capture the audience’s attention, especially when they’re the first line. The blurb, title, and first line, all add together to create the almost creepy atmosphere of this book.
“Joost had two problems: the moon and his mustache.”
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Not my favourite quote from the series, but still a pretty awesome first line! You don’t hear much else about Joost, but he certainly makes for an interesting introduction.
“I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher”
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Aaaand last one, is (not actually the first line, per se, but first chapter name) Percy Jackson. How could I not include Riordan’s hilarious one-liners?? Seriously, this entire book- no, series – is filled with laughs!
And there we have it. I hope you enjoyed this wonderful list, as I certainly did. Maybe you’re even looking at Sizzling Starts with new eyes now! Looking back over books and finding old favourites is super fun!! If you have any of your own, definitely add them in the comments below!! I’ll be looking out for some good ones! 🙂