Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Reprise: Fabulous First Lines

on June 15, 2022

The first line of your novel or story can make it or break it. Are your words intriguing? Compelling? Do they make the reader hungry for more? Consider these first lines written by well-known authors. How do they make you feel? What images come into your head? Do you want to read more?

1. “Sometimes Sonny felt like he was the only human creature in the town.” Larry McMurtry, The Last Picture Show

2. “It was about eleven o’clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills.” Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep

3. “When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him.” Cormac McCarthy, The Road

4. “The alchemist picked up a book that someone in the caravan had brought.” Paul Coelho, The Alchemist

5. “Renowned curator Jacques Sauniere staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum’s Grand Gallery.” Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code

6. “When a traveller in north central Massachusetts takes the wrong fork at the junction of the Aylesbury pike just beyond Dean’s Corners he comes upon a lonely and curious country.” H.P. Lovecraft, The Dunwich Horror

7. “On these cloudy days, Robert Neville was never sure when sunset came, and sometimes they were in the streets before he could get back.” Richard Matheson, I Am Legend

8. “The cat had a party to attend, and went to the baboon to get herself groomed.” David Sedaris, squirrel seeks chipmunk

9. “‘To be born again,’ sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, ‘first you have to die.'” Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

10. “The witnesses standing at the edge of the field were staring in horrified silence, too stunned to speak.” Sidney Sheldon, The Doomsday Conspiracy

11. “I had this story from one who had no business to tell it to me, or to any other.” Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes

12. “Amerigo Bonasera sat in New York Criminal Court Number 3 and waited for justice; vengeance on the men who had so cruelly hurt his daughter, who had tried to dishonor her.” Mario Puzo, The Godfather 

13. “I see . . .” said the vampire thoughtfully, and slowly he walked across the room towards the window.” Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire

14. “Almost everyone thought the man and the boy were father and son.” Stephen King, ‘Salem’s Lot

15. “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.” Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind

And the list goes on, ad infinitum. But you get the idea.

Dawn Pisturino

April 24, 2012; June 15, 2022

Copyright 2012-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.


27 responses to “Reprise: Fabulous First Lines

  1. aparna12 says:

    Wow. All these first lines are very impressive. A fantastic post, dear Dawn. Loved and enjoyed reading it. 😊😊

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great post Dawn!
    I’m drawn in alright… nice examples of keeping our attention! πŸ’–

    Liked by 1 person

  3. markone1blog says:

    My favorite is “Call me Ishmael.” — since the name “Ishmael” means “God will hear” and it seemed that the life of Ishmael was filled with enough grief that he could have continually gone to God (both in the Bible and Moby Dick).

    Liked by 2 people

  4. utahan15 says:

    once upon my time. lmao

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I sympathise with the Lovecraftian horror of having once been lost in Massachusetts.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. […] Source: Reprise: Fabulous First Lines | Dawn Pisturino’s Blog […]

    Liked by 2 people

  7. These are some priceless, out-of-the-gate lead in lines that you did some excellent research on to share. πŸ‘πŸΌ Your questions are very valid Dawn, and they can lure you into the storyline that will invite you to explore more or put the book down prematurely. Thanks for sharing my dear friend. πŸ˜πŸ’–πŸ˜ŠπŸ“•πŸ₯°

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Michele Lee says:

    Great post! Recognizable and memorable first lines.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. You are right. A book’s first line/paragraph is what makes a reader want to read. It is that simple, and it is also one of the hardest things for an author to do. You gave some great examples, BTW.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Neal Saye says:

    Love the Sedaris quote! I went to one of his readings/events a while back here in Savannah. He’s quite a character.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Fun post and great quotes to read or remember. Thanks for coming up with this idea, Dawn.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Iowa Life says:

    “When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.”

    Liked by 2 people

  13. balladeer says:

    Terrific collection of opening lines!

    Liked by 1 person

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