One of my students came up with a cracking first line the other day and it got me thinking about one of my favourite topics.

A busy and harassed judge/editor/agent reads so much that anything that makes them notice you has got to be good. Compelling, gripping, intriguing, it has to get the reader interested.

I went back to some of my favourite examples taken from the top 100 of a recent poll of all-time great openings.

 

As you know, I do like to write about the importance of good first lines as a way of grabbing the reader.

How about these examples to make the point for me?

* 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

* It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. —George Orwell, 1984

* It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. —Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

* I am an invisible man. —Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

* Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested. —Franz Kafka, The Trial

* 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 Rye

Each one draws you into the story right from the off, either by a strong narrative voice, an intriguing thought or simply through the sheer quality of the prose (‘if the opening lines are like, just imagine what the rest will be like’, thinks the reader).

Do that and you have given yourself a great chance of success.

 

Views: 1

Reply to This

Latest Activity

John Dean posted a blog post

A festival for crime fiction and non-fiction fans

May is National Crime Readers’ Month (NCRM), a unique literary festival held throughout the UK, which promotes the crime genre, both fiction and non fiction.NCRM is designed to bring together writers and readers in order to promote the genre as a whole and writers specifically.It is co-ordinated by The Crime Writers’ Association, which was founded in 1953 by author John Creasey and which also runs sister organisation the Crime Readers’ Association.I am delighted to be taking part in NCRM and…See More
22 hours ago
John Dean posted blog posts
Monday
Deborah Kaback is now a member of John Dean Crime Novelist
Monday
John Dean posted a blog post

Crime fiction sales hit the top of the chart

Crime novels and psychological thrillers are outselling other types of fiction for the first time, after television dramas boosted interest in the genre.In 2017, 18.7 million crime and thriller books were sold, up 19 per cent since 2015. General and literary fiction titles, which have led the market for the past 20 years, sold 18.1 million copies.Women are driving the boom, accounting for 53 per cent of crime and thriller sales. The market last year was worth £117 million, according to figures…See More
Apr 11
John Dean posted blog posts
Apr 6
John Dean posted a blog post

Keeping it real

This is an article I have just had published in Red Herrings, the magazine of the Crime Writers’ Association, of which I am a member, which I thought might interest When you talk to writers, one of the subjects that evokes some of the most passionate  debate is the blurring between reality and fiction.There are those writers who argue…See More
Apr 3
John Dean posted blog posts
Mar 22
Calvin Reynolds updated their profile
Mar 21
Calvin Reynolds is now a member of John Dean Crime Novelist
Mar 20
Bianca Vermont is now a member of John Dean Crime Novelist
Mar 19
John Dean posted discussions
Mar 16
John Dean posted a photo
Mar 16
Profile IconFrank Deeming and August Priest joined John Dean Crime Novelist
Mar 15
John Dean posted a blog post

A glimpse into the mind of a writer

Emotion is something of which some writers are wary, preferring to produce work without revealing too much of themselves.However, for many other writers, there cannot be fiction without a sense of themselves in it.For some authors, there is always part of them peering through, their fears, their hopes, their aspirations, their take on life. They may not say ‘and this is me’ but it is there all the same. For many authors, writing has to be a deeply personal art.Of course, it is not all…See More
Mar 15
John Dean posted a blog post

Author to talk at festival

Join crime writer John Dean at the Darlington Arts Festival Literary Day on Saturday May 26. John, the creator of the DCI John Blizzard and DCI Jack Harris series, who has had 16 novels published and is currently with The Book Folks of London, will talk about where his ideas come from.Price: Free event, no booking requiredPlace: Library Room at Friends Meeting House, SkinnergateDate and time: 26th May 4pm-5pmFull programme details at…See More
Feb 28
Tyler Collings is now a member of John Dean Crime Novelist
Feb 28

Videos

© 2018   Created by John Dean.   Powered by

Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service