I was going to blog about ‘A world without William Shakespeare’ but the prospect was too horrendous – even if Christopher Marlowe hadn’t been killed so young.
Did that line grab you, or turn you livid with anger?
How important to you is the first line of a book? I admit there have been some great ones. My favourites, and I read these decades ago, are:
There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. — C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. – George Orwell, 1984 (1949)
But such lists are open to debate, and trying to pick favorites can be a challenge.
Getting that opening right, finding the right words, choosing the moment to start that is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer – that’s wrong, although as writers we can suffer.
At the moment, my mind is on openings, partly as I have taken on some beta reading, but also as I am struggling with my own opening line:
“Their eyes stared at Twyla without emotion and followed every move that she made up or down the stairs.”
The real question is – what makes you read on? The opening line or paragraph? The cover and blurb? Reviews?
I can remember days past when I went into a bricks & mortar bookshop and flicked through real books. Aah that smell. I started with the cover and blurb, then sampled the opening, and even flicked further on. Harder of course with e-books, but sampling is an option so I read as far as I can. To me a novel is more than a memorable first line.
Do we stop at “Who’s there?” or tarry longer with the Groundlings?
So what hooks you? What is your favourite opening? Can you envisage no Shakespeare?