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Post your favorite novel / short story opener that you have written
Posted: Friday, March 16, 2012 9:29 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 224

Starting a novel is, frankly, tricky business. Out of all of the novels, short stories, or other forms of fiction you have written, what is your absolute favorite opener? (Any genre is welcome, though I'd be more curious to see fantasy openers personally.)

Why is it your favorite?

I'll start the embarrassment by sharing mine. This is the opening passage from a novel that I am tentatively calling King Richard's Son. Once I have a chapter or two finished, I'll likely be posting it on Book Country.

I like it because while it doesn't have any action, it somehow feels intense despite the lack of action. I like its evocative nature.

Rules are simple, just post the first few paragraphs of your favorite opening from a book you have written.

My life of lies began with my birth. Had I known then what would come, I might have spared my mother her anguish and died. Instead, I survived. I thrived.

That was — and still is — the nature of wolves.

All I remember of her was the moment she named me. No matter how shameful the circumstances of my birth, it was something that I wouldn’t forget. A wolf simply couldn’t, for names had power and mine was both great and terrible.

Sharon T Rose
Posted: Saturday, March 17, 2012 1:47 AM
Joined: 6/17/2011
Posts: 2

My favorite would be from a germ that hasn't turned into anything yet:

"Everything you think you know about the supernatural is wrong. If you accept that now, the rest will come a lot easier."

I'm thinking about this for the current WIP:

Nothing remains but memory and anguish, and these continue without relief. Even death is not an option.

Sharon T Rose
Posted: Saturday, March 17, 2012 1:51 AM
Joined: 6/17/2011
Posts: 2

My favorite is from a germ that hasn't turned into anything yet:

Everything you think you know about the supernatural is wrong. If you accept that now, the rest will come a lot easier.

may know bits and pieces of the truth, but if I bet on how little of
the whole truth you knew, I'd be confident of winning that bet. You've
been misinformed, lied to, and dangerously mislead. The conspiracy of
ignorance isn't your government leaders trying to hide things from you.
It's a lot worse than that.

Timothy Maguire
Posted: Saturday, March 17, 2012 2:42 PM
Joined: 8/13/2011
Posts: 272

For me, I'm still fond of the opening to My Four Girlfriends simply because it makes me laugh:

If you're looking for the average
normal high school story, look somewhere else. If you're expecting a
story about an outcast who gets the most popular boy/ girl in the
school, that's not in here. If you think this is about the losers
proving their chops, then well, no, that's not going to happen.
Finally, if you think that this must be about learning some vital
lesson about life, well sorry, all the lessons I've learnt are about
things you'll find useless in normal life.

No this is about how my massively
screwing up my love life saved the world.


This about what really happened on the
eighteenth of September 2014 (that's the Day of Black Sun for those
of you in the back) and what happened in the days leading up to it.

My name is Richard Simms and My Four
Girlfriends saved the world.

The other one I'm quite fond of is the opening to Manastone. I went over and over this when I was writing it, trying to get a real sense for the character:

Rule One is simple: Run
Too, Not From. In a nutshell, it means that when you run, you should
run to safety, not away from danger. Go to somewhere you know you
can't be harmed, so that your enemies can't attack you. Of course,
the challenge is to get there before you're caught.

Harper Wade
Posted: Sunday, March 18, 2012 9:29 AM
Joined: 2/25/2012
Posts: 20

Not the best, but still my favorite. xD

The last time someone asked me what it was like to be ageless, I countered by asking them what it was like to not remember their own birth. The conversation didn’t really progress much beyond that.

Carl E Reed
Posted: Sunday, March 18, 2012 9:13 PM
Joined: 4/27/2011
Posts: 608

My misanthropic opening to "The Strange & Curious Tale of Professor R. H. Wilson" still makes me chuckle on those achingly bright, sun-shiny days I tramp the dusty spiral staircase that leads from my first-floor brownstone redoubt into the windowless, book-crammed gothic garret on the second floor. There I meditate and levitate and cogitate, safe for the moment from the pullulating hordes of ululating, dirt-begrimed homeless urchins that tug at my trousers for sweets on the gas-lit streets just outside. But then I might be growing increasingly crotchety and weird as I age . . .

Professor Robert Howard Wilson hated children. He hated the nerve-jangling aural assault of piping idiot voices; he abominated the spastic flailing of juvenile locomotion; he abhorred the foul odors of dirt, sweat, urine and sour milk which clung to brightly-garbed hobgoblin bodies.  But most of all, he detested children because he saw them for what they were: cruel and scheming little savages, primed by the calculated barbarisms of nature and culture to fall upon one another at the first sign of oddity or weakness. Homo ignoramus minisculus, he termed the loathsome genotype.

Atthys Gage
Posted: Sunday, March 18, 2012 9:27 PM
Joined: 6/7/2011
Posts: 467

A quick perusal of the archives is needed.  

Okay.  I think my personal favorite is from a short novel called Fold Along the Dotted Line (Girl Jocks, Sci Fi Geeks and Other Paranormal Phenomena)

It goes:

"Okay, here's the thing."
Byrne gave the basketball a hard spin between his fingertips and caught it again.  "Originally there were two races – one with brow-ridges, the other without."

Jay Greenstein
Posted: Sunday, March 18, 2012 11:15 PM
Well, this is from a short horror story called Baby Talk:

“Hey Chazz, here’s another load of dead babies. Where do you want them?”

Charlie Kane looked up from his magazine and pointed toward a clear spot on his desk. “Just drop them here, Max. I’ll get to them tomorrow, maybe.”

Danielle Poiesz
Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 10:21 AM
This is a great thread! Though I'd love to hear WHY everyone's favorite is their favorite, so tell us that when you share the opening!

It's really hard to choose one of my own to share though...my current favorite is one I haven't written yet but is sitting in my head, waiting for me to finish outlining and world-building before I can put it down on paper. For that one, you will have to wait.

I'm torn between the opening of a YA project I've been working on and the one from a literary short story I'm revising, so I'll share both:

YA -- When I was three years old, I electrocuted my
baby brother.




/* Style Definitions */
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mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
font-family:"Times New Roman";

I like this line because it's just so darn dramatic and random. But at the same time the narrator shares it so casually that it gives a sense of the MCs personality and history without telling you anything real. To me, it sparks curiosity in the reader, not only about what happened in that specific incident and why, but about who this character is.

Short -- The world was lacking in heroes, and he was no exception. It didn’t matter that he had an American flag sewn into the softly worn shoulder of his jacket or that he was top candidate when he graduated basic training so many years ago. The fact that he saved his sergeant’s life when that explosion blew up the entire camp, killing everyone else in his platoon, didn’t even change his hero status. He thought it did, but he was wrong.

This one I like because it sets up the MC so well (or at least I think it does? LOL). It shows that he's the kind of man who most people would consider a hero but that there's something about him that makes him the very opposite and makes the reader want to know the answer to a number of questions.

That's my favorite thing about a strong opening--when it makes the reader ask questions.

LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Friday, March 23, 2012 2:00 PM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662

I'm currently working on a short story called "One Pin Short of Ten." Now mind you, its still being written, so this beginning is a little rough.

The ten pin mocked Ned Haswell.

Okay, that wasn't entirely true Ned admitted. What mocked him were the two little creatures on each side of the pin that grinned in malicious glee. Ned scowled back at the fairies with their demonic smiles and watery black eyes. They were like twisted little children the size of a ball point pen that had lost its cap. He hated the little bastards.

I love this beginning because it sets up the conflict that my MC has with his ability to see fairies, who torment him to no end. I hope to finish it soon and get it up here. I'm trying to write a straight comedy, so we'll see how it goes. So far his friend's name is Richard Cranium (taken from a real dude my brother knew), and his typewriter is Beerguzzler (yes, there is an explanation for that).
Brian Lowe
Posted: Saturday, March 24, 2012 10:48 PM
Joined: 1/31/2012
Posts: 16

Offhand, I'd pick this one (and not just because the story is coming out in Buzzymag later this year). I just think it's a good hook.

It's funny how shy murder victims can be when they have to testify in court. I knew a DA once whose whole case fell apart just because the victim had been pushed down a flight of stairs and his neck never sat right on his shoulders after that. He was too embarrassed to testify.

Alexandria Brim
Posted: Sunday, March 25, 2012 3:44 AM
Joined: 10/20/2011
Posts: 353

I've been thinking and I've decided to go with my opening paragraph of "The Wedding Game." I chose it because of the setting created within it: 

            It rained the day they buried her. It was as if the sky was crying the tears her daughter no longer could. The young lady stood next to the freshly dug grave, watching it slowly fill with water despite the servants’ best effort. She herself felt not a single raindrop as the priest continued to pray in Latin. She knew the language; her tutors had drilled her until she was fluent. Her current tutor, Mr. Smythe, stood behind her, repeating the proper responses. She loved the language but today it felt alien, distant.

Angela Martello
Posted: Sunday, March 25, 2012 8:37 AM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394

The openings are the hardest parts for me! But I guess I would have to say I like this one from a new book I started working on. The opening is journal entry (no idea why the font changed while pasting it in):

September 22 was the day the world as we all knew it ended. It was the day I sat in the kitchen with my front door locked and the soundtrack to “The Tudors” playing loudly. It was the day I chose to act by doing nothing.

To understand why, one would need to know the whole story. To know the whole story, one would need to go back more than 25 years. . .

Robert C Roman
Posted: Monday, March 26, 2012 1:27 PM
Joined: 3/12/2011
Posts: 383

Openings are always hard for me, too. My favorite so far is this one, from my current WIP, Desert Fox. I like it because it  gives an immediate insight into the conflict at the beginning of the story.

Alondra Gonzalez stared with numb horror at the gallows in the town’s central square.   It had been erected with frightening rapidity. Pine sap dripped down one uncured upright. The rope dangling from the crossbar was raw hemp, thick and rough.  The nails holding the structure together were still shiny, without a touch of rust.

Yoshay Lama
Posted: Sunday, April 1, 2012 5:56 AM
Joined: 1/18/2012
Posts: 7

Since I have observed that Book Country is quite big on Fantasy and Paranormal genre, I decided to post the opening of my fantasy/paranormal novella called "A Place Without Light" which is not yet complete. I will post it here as soon as it is. Thank you for reading this one!

Don’t do that! He snapped as I tried to roll the window down to let in some air. It was stifling inside the vehicle but he wouldn’t let me roll the window down. He didn’t look intimidating for a kidnapper. He looked like any other average young man, and I felt exceptionally calm. “What are you staring at?” he said between casting a side glance at me and keeping his eyes on the road. Outside, the open fields that were fringed with trees at a distance, all turned into a blur as he put pressure on the accelerator.

Adelaide Emerson
Posted: Saturday, April 14, 2012 8:27 AM
Joined: 4/6/2012
Posts: 12

I'm a little late to the game but, looking through this post, I'm really enjoying some of the responses and I wanna play too!

This is the opening to a short story called "Cynic Girl's Epic Yet Not Unexpected Confrontation with a Complete D-Bag". My Cynic Girl stories are really just theropy writing for me - a place where I can safely store my abrupt and callous alter-ego before she does real-world damage. I'm choosing this because I think it offers pretty good insight into my character's personality which set up the rest of the story nicely.

Despite my best effort, my foot jerked spasmodically. My shiny, black Christian Dior pumps should have been bouncing in rhythm with the mad beats of Enrique telling me exactly what he wanted to do to me that night, but I'm white. Not like those big-boodied caucasian girls who ooze sensual soul-sister, but in the strictest Anglo-Saxon meaning of the word. My foot looked like it was going into seizures.

I hate bars. I damned my weak constitution, not for the first time, at having allowed my semi-crazy friend Astrid talk me into going out. Astrid's only known me for about a decade, so it's not surprising that she's not familiar with my distaste for sticky floors, trendy pop music and drooling, druken nitwits. I would have said no, but she's a witch. Literally. She prefers the term "pegan," but either way I'm pretty sure that when she said I didn't have a choice, I really didn't. 


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