Tuesday, September 24, 2013

An Analysis of Five Lesser-Known First Lines

1.   "It began with President Coyle's children, Ethan and Zoe, both high-profile personalities since they had arrived in Washington, and probably even before that." - James Patterson's Kill Alex Cross

It's a fairytale-like opening, but executed well.  It gives you a lot of information from the get-go.  It's pretty solid.

2.   "In the land of Ingary, where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of three." - Diana Wynne Jones' Howl's Moving Castle

You kind of have to read the book to fully appreciate this.  It's pretty brilliant.

3.   "If someone had asked Jared Grace what jobs his brother and sister would have when they grew up, he would have had no trouble replying." - Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black's The Field Guide

There's character setup and a tinge of "man v. self" conflict presented.  It's not incredible, but it's definitely good.

4.   "Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, former Baron of Gorlan in the Kingdom of Araluen, looked out over his bleak, rainswept domain and, for perhaps the thousandth time, cursed." - John Flanagan's The Ruins of Gorlan

Epic.  Perhaps too epic.  It's vivid, I'll give it that.  Plenty of world-building.  Tough one.

5.   "Last summer, the summer I turned twelve, was the summer Adam came." - Ann M. Martin's A Corner of the Universe

It sets things up adequately.  You have to read the rest of the paragraph to get the real kick, but I think the opener gets you to read at least that far, so no harm done.


  1. First lines are always tricky. It's a matter of hooking the reader and introducing the story at the same time. Number 4 was a little too loaded for my taste, I think some of the stuff about the character could have been talked about later, even if it was later in the same paragraph. Thanks for sharing this post with us, Patrick :)

    1. It was MG, so he could get away with it. I probably should have mentioned that. Standard epic fantasy prologue fare, but that's still not an excuse. You're welcome.