First lines are critical. It serves as the opportunity of the author to captivate the readers as it sets the tone of the story. It immediately states what sets the book apart as the first line is like a statement that represents the whole meaning of the story. It could be exciting, happy, or sad as long as it catches attention. It can be poetic or straightforward depending on what impression and feeling the author wants to provide the readers.
10 Best First Lines From Bestselling Novels:
- “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” – Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
This line is powerful as it is a factual, general statement that the readers already know but it makes them say, “Indeed.” Family is happiness, and it demands all the same, but when a family is miserable and unhappy, there is a different and reason for it that may mean otherwise to others. The definition of happiness comes in question, as a problem may not be one for other people.
- “The way I figure it, everyone gets a miracle. Like, I will probably never be struck by lightning, or win a Nobel Prize, or become the dictator of a small nation in the Pacific Islands, or contract terminal ear cancer or spontaneously combust. But if you consider all the unlikely things together, at least one of them will probably happen to each of us.” – Paper Towns, by John Green
These lines are captivating because they make readers realize and doubt their feeling of frustration. Whether they are senselessly worrying, chasing after the wrong dream. There is a destiny intended for us all. We cannot play the same role that’s why we have to gain acceptance of the things that we do not can and cannot have. They are not failures. Instead, they are simply things that are not meant for us.
- “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.” – A Tale of Two Cities (1859), Charles Dickens
These words are powerful as they remarkably describe the complete contradiction of a particular time. People are drawn to what makes the author intensely think as he did, and what made him say so.
- “They say that just before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes, but that’s not how it happened for me.” – Before I Fall, Lauren Oliver
Death is always an intriguing topic. People are curious but at the same time afraid of the truth surrounding it, and while many people described that you would have a flashback right before you die, someone experienced it differently. But how?
- “This is the saddest story I have ever heard.” – The Good Soldier (1915), Ford Madox Ford
We all know sad, but what makes a story the saddest? When we read this line, it makes us curious as to what could have happened that makes it so.
- “I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.” – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs
Most people know the feeling of being ordinary. This line makes us want to know what extraordinary things began to happen. There is also the feeling of hope that we might experience great things too.
- Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu. – Waiting (1999), Ha Jin
Is this possible? Why would a man do that? Could she be that bad? This line makes the readers curious as to what could drive a man hurt and humiliate his wife all over again.
- “I’m a senior at Cesar Chavez High in San Francisco’s sunny Mission district, and that makes me one of the most surveilled people in the world.” – Little Brother, Cory Doctorow
This line makes the reader wonder what it is with Cesar Chavez High that it’s sand why the students are due to suspicions. What do they do there that makes people focus their keen eyes?
- Justice? – You get justice in the next world, in this world you have the law. – A Frolic of His Own (1994), William Gaddis
This line confirms the reality that there is no justice in this world, only human law which is flawed and can sometimes be the reason for injustice. When readers read this line, it makes them confirm that they are not the only ones who believe our justice is unjust, but why?
- “One summer night I fell asleep, hoping the world would be different when I woke.” – Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Don’t we all sometimes do? This line makes the impression that the person uttering the words is on a struggle. We are all familiar with that feeling, but what could he be going through to feel what he feels?
The first lines of a book are like first impressions. It keeps us curious and interested when it catches our weakness. Bestselling authors are geniuses about human emotions. They know what stirs it and what occupies the mind. To be able to make a perfect first line, one must input a realistic, precise, but not obvious idea. We are all humans, and our emotions are the same. Great authors know how to pull them out of our chests just by writing their first lines.