Great opening lines. We all want one. But let’s admit it, some do it better than others.
I myself suffer from performance anxiety.
I write what I think is a fantastic line and then I begin to doubt myself. Am I just writing that for shock value or is it really a relevant opening line? Is it wanky? Are there too many words? Am I telling a joke that no one else gets?
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that it’s easy to come up with a list of great first lines of all time, but I’m interesed in what makes a great first line in a romance novel.
So here’s how I roll. I go into the bookshop. I don’t take much notice of covers as well as know, you don’t judge a book by it’s…well you know how that ends. I check to see how big the author’s name is. The bigger the name, the badder the book. By then, I’ve checked to see the clerks not watching me (no, I can’t explain why I do that) then I pick up the book. Do I look at the back? No Bob. Do I check the inside cover? Do books have inside covers any more? I don’t do it anyway. I open up and read Line 1. Then Line 2. Then Line 3.If I haven’t got goosebumps or if I’m not standing in the bookshop with a silly smile on my face – then it’s not the book for me. Yes, I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a first line snob.
First line? Killer.
I thought I’d turn to my own little library of (mainly historical) romance novels and do a little countdown a-k-a Oprah. But your not all getting one. Sorry.
“She would not be sold like a prized mare at Tattersalls!” – Notorious Rake, Innocent Lady, Bronwyn Scott
I should hope not. But if she was, I hope she fetched a good price.
“Finish the words and you will be a widow before you are a wife,” Giles Fitzhenry, knighted warrier of William the Conqueror, promised in a harsh whisper. – His Enemy’s Daughter, Terri Brisbin
I wish I could be that pithy under pressure.
“Jane looked with distaste and a cringing fear at the chair Jacob Atkins would have her bend over so he could beat her with the thin cane which was casually slapping against his booted right leg.” –Destitute on his Doorstep, Helen Dickson