The first sentence is arguably the most important component of any literary work, be it a short story, an essay, or a novel (or even a blog post!). The opening line gives readers insight into the writer’s voice and style while simultaneously drawing them into the story, piquing their interest and making them wonder what is going on, and, more importantly, what is going to happen next. A good opening line can make a story, just like a bad one can break it; after all, if the first sentence isn’t all that great, how likely are you to keep reading the book? Probably not all that likely.
So what are some of the best opening lines in literature, the ones that send shivers down our spines, get us excited to read? Well, I’ll tell you.
A writing professor once told me that sometimes writers needed to put down their pens, step away from their laptops, and get their butts in some comfy chairs and start reading. She argued that reading is the best way for writers to keep at their A-Game, because reading lets you see how others are telling their stories and handling the writing craft, both in the past and in the present. As a writer, reading can be a love-hate relationship. Sometimes I find a writer who I’m absolutely blown away by, because he/she is writing about content similar to mine and doing it in a way that I’ve a.) never thought of and b.) could never possibly do myself. Bret Easton Ellis is like that for me. And while I am awed and inspired during these experiences, I’m also disheartened because it makes me feel inadequate as a writer because I know that I could never write a story in the way that this other writer did (hence the love-hate relationship). Fortunately, I eventually remember that I’m not actually trying to be like these other writers, I’m trying to be my own writer, and so these thoughts of inadequacy quickly fade into thoughts of “yeah, you did a good job with that story, now I’m going to write my own story in my own way and you know what? It’s going to be good too.”
So, long story short, I make sure I spend a good amount of my free time reading in order to get the creative juices flowing and keep myself motivated towards that ultimate goal of the completed novel. Alright, enough babbling, time to get to What I’m Reading this week!