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BEST way to start a book?
Annabelle R Charbit
Posted: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 4:38 PM
Joined: 4/26/2011
Posts: 55

Ok we've discussed the worst ways to open a book, now what would you say were the best ways to begin?

For me, the best opening line of all time was Graeme Greene in A Gun for Hire, who opened with "Murder meant nothing to Raven."

It's the only book I ever read where I remember the opening line.

What's your favorite opening line, published or not published?


El Vidente
Posted: Friday, December 9, 2011 5:27 PM
Joined: 11/18/2011
Posts: 2

I always liked science fiction writer Robert Heinlein's approach to writing which I think will work for any genre.  Jump right into the middle of the action and explain later.

One of his most famous stories begins with "Put down that wrench!"  We learn, as we go along, that in the future a certain technology is so dangerous the workers are being constantly watched for any signs of fatigue, nervousness or other problems and are immediately pulled from their jobs if an inspector has any reason at all to doubt them.  Problem is, this constant scrutiny is making them so nervous they are being pulled off the job constantly, causing a vicious circle leading to catastrophe.

So, in a mystery I would start with a chase or an interrogation already in progress, in fantasy with the hero already battling the monster or wizard and in romance with the couple fighting.  The explanation of how things got that way would come after.

Easier to get your hook that way.

LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Saturday, December 10, 2011 3:26 PM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662

Honestly, it depends on the work. Throwing your reading into the middle of the action is a good way to get people hooked, but do it enough and it can become old hat for you as a writer. I say experiment. I do lines of dialogue frequently, but they aren't always heading into some epic event. I suggest reading Athys Gage's comments in the thread about worst ways to start. He makes the best point I've seen.
Posted: Monday, January 9, 2012 4:40 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 103

Love this opening from Swing by Opal Carew:

"Would you come to a Swingers' club with me?" Shane asked.

Melissa's stomach felt like it had dropped to her knees. She couldn't think of a single question he could have asked that would have shocked her more.

Timothy Maguire
Posted: Monday, January 9, 2012 7:44 PM
Joined: 8/13/2011
Posts: 272

For me, the only opening that's ever really stuck in my head is:

The building was on fire and it wasn't my fault.

It's from one of the Dresden Files, where the protagonist has a slight arson issue. It's one of the few times I can remember he didn't set the building on fire.


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