First Lines, Last Word...

By Charlotte Bennardo

The theme this month is first lines or international creativity. I'm going with first lines.

Once you start attending writing conferences and meet with editors and agents, they emphasize the importance of the 'hook' or the first line to pull readers in. We spend so much time writing and re-writing the beginnings of our novels, and especially the first line.

Photo courtesy of Pexels, Inc.

But what makes a great first line? I did some perusing around the net to see what people considered was the best. I checked the Top 100 Opening Lines as chosen by the American Book Review. Hmmm. I stopped at the first 50. They seem to favor certain classic authors, it didn't matter that a lot of these first lines would be red-inked by editors today (too wordy, too long, too passive), and none were written after 1999. So I checked with Gawker. A few more current titles, but still, I was not impressed. (I'm not going to tell you which ones I thought were dumb; look for yourself and decide.)

But first lines are subjective like the books themselves; some will hate it, some love it, and sometimes who knows what the writer/editor/critics were thinking. We writers put a lot of thought and revision into our first lines, but if the first line doesn't pull you in, skip to the second or third line or even the next chapter.

Here are a few more Best First Lines from other sources:

Signature Reads


Bored Panda


Happy reading!


  1. One of my all time favorites from MG literature is: "There was once a boy named Milo who didn't know what to do with himself -not just sometimes, but always." from the PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH by Norton Juster


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