Friday, April 7, 2017

The Magnificent First sentence or First Paragraph

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Don't we all remember the above famous opening line of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice?

Many authors manage to grab the attention of their readers right from the opening lines of their book. 

Some begin with a fascinating opening line; some others have a magnificent first paragraph.

Before I buy any book, I read the first paragraph/ page of the book. I know many others who do this as well. 

As a writer, we can always try and follow this technique. I usually work on it during the final edit of my manuscript. 

Many of my author friends emphasize the importance they place on a great opening line as well.

Let us check some examples from some famous works. These are my personal favorites.

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
 ~Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

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, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

~ Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

In my younger and more vulnerable years, my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.
“Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.”

~ Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

So, are you ready to work on your opening lines?

I hope these examples have managed to convince you.

During this A-Z April Challenge, I am exploring the A-Z journey of writing a Novel with examples from Literature.
The Letter of the day is F

Linking this post  to Blogging from A-Z

Have you read the Letter A, B, C, D, ?


  1. Yes to Tolstoy. One of my fav first lines! Aside from being thought-provoking, it's total quote-material. :)

    When I'm running through my 1st draft I don't bother with the "perfect" first line. But once I'm in revision mode, I start fine-tuning. SO I'm ready to tackle that first line (and all the other lines after it)!

    1. All the best to you! May you finetune it and hook the reader right away. Thank you for reading.

  2. There are books that start slow but pick Up later too. But yes the opening paragraph will give u a good idea

    1. True. Some have a lousy opening and catch up later.
      Thank you for reading.

  3. yes, that austen book is definitely memorable and it was redone in a few other books. I like Jane Eyre's first few lines which I can't remember it but I used to.

    I also read the first few sentences and sometimes paragraphs before I can decide whether I want to read a book. this usually works because there is so much a writer can put in those few first sentences.

    have a lovely day.

    my F post: Fiction

    1. I am glad we share a common love for classics. Wishing you a lovely day. Thanks for reading.

  4. Thanks for sharing these opening lines will definitely use somewhere some day
    Thanks for sharing
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  5. First sentences and first paragraphs are the personal hell of writers. There are very few other piece of story that are as hard to write.
    But if you get them right... then it's paradice.

    The Old Shelter - 1940s Film Noir

    1. True. A magnificent first sentence brings a win-win situation.

  6. I love reading the nuances from you dear :)

  7. I believe in and try to follow this , Preethi. There are so many choices open to readers these days that you have only 1 chance to grab their attention.
    I am loving this series and your theme. Keep going!:)