Opening Zingers

“Mommy, if you die, I’d want to die with you.”   

Words from my 7-year-old as I’m trying to merge through a swamp of 270 rush-hour traffic.  After I avoid almost crashing into the car in front of me, and after expounding a litany of question make sure she’s only expressing a thought and isn’t really ready to end it all with a butter knife, a thought strikes.  Holy crap!  What an opening line. 

The fact that I have opening lines on my brain isn’t a phenomenon.   Thanks to the WRW retreat, I have a few requests pending.  And now comes the icky part: what I like to call worry wording.  Where I chew and gnaw over every word.  Especially in those first opening lines.  I realize a fabulous first sentence won’t lead to a sale, the rest of the innards have to be there too, but it doesn’t hurt.    So that got me thinking.. can you name your favorite opening line in a book, WITHOUT looking it up.     

17 thoughts on “Opening Zingers

  1. Masha! As badly as I want to be able to do it without looking it up…I cannot! Can you?

    But ironically after looking it up…”I’d never given much thought to how I would die…”

    Looking forward to seeing everyone’s responses. Great post fishy sister!

  2. I can pretty much paraphrase most of Kristan Higgins’s first lines. But I’ll try three of hers. CATCH OF THE DAY–“Falling in love with a priest wasn’t my smartest move.” (Again, paraphrased, but I bet I come pretty close…)
    FOOLS RUSH IN–“I’m a stalker. The good kind.” (I’m willing to pretty much bet I’ve nailed that one.)
    TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE–“Making up a boyfriend isn’t something new for me.” (Again, paraphrased, but I bet I come fairly close.)
    That last book was the first book I ever read of hers, and I was hooked. I received it at RWA, and it sat around for the longest time without me reading it. When I finally cracked that sucker open, I ignored everything else until I finished it. Then I immediately went online and purchased the rest. I think there were only four of hers out at that point.
    It’s kind of ironic that my very favorite of her books–JUST ONE OF THE GUYS–is one of the books I can’t recall that first line. Hmmmmm. And I’ve read it a gazillion times.
    So, anyway, yeah, her first lines always hooked me.
    Great post, Masha. And wow, the things kids say! Yikes. Glad you didn’t slam into the car in front of you. Now, THAT would have been irony.

    1. As I was reading this post I KNEW you would talk about Kristan Higgins! And well-deserved – she has GREAT opening lines! 😉

  3. Okay. Had to look them up.
    CATCH OF THE DAY–“Falling in love with a Catholic priest was not my smartest move.”
    FOOLS RUSH IN–I did nail that one. *pats self on the back*
    TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE–“Making up a boyfriend is nothing new for me.” (much better than my paraphrased one–oh how a few different words change the flow.)
    And I HAD to look up JUST ONE OF THE GUYS–“I think we should stop seeing each other.” I remember the whole scene, but I couldn’t remember that opening line.
    I think Kristan Higgins should give a workshop on opening lines. Has she ever done one? Anyone??

  4. Okay, so in the rush of everything, of course I forget the most important thing> Duh!.. My own opening lines.
    Kim.. I’m so with you there. The best opening line I love is by Kristan Higgins too: “When you smile and angel dies.” I didn’t look it up, so it’s probably close, but that was awesome. I also like Sarah Mayberry’s: “How do I dislike thee?” By the way, I am excluding MerSisters from the list since that would seem panderish.. 🙂 Looking forward to see what other say.

  5. And just for the record.. it’s not that I can’t spell.. I can’t proofread.. 🙂

  6. Yay, Masha! I *love* opening lines! I often quote them for students during classroom visits. Because I AM A SUPERNERD.

    * “Every child but one grows up.” (Peter Pan)

    * “It was a dark and stormy night.” (many…but my fav is A Wrinkle in Time)

    * “The day Buttercup was born, the most beautiful woman in the world was a French scullery maid named Annette.” (The Princess Bride)

    *”There was a shark in the kitchen.” (James Maxey’s story “To the East a Bright Star”)

    and of course…

    * “My name is Sunday Woodcutter, and I am doomed to a happy life.” (Enchanted)

    Now I want to hear YOUR story…

  7. Great post. I have two:

    It was a dark and stormy night. A WRINKLE IN TIME

    He was sick to death of her nagging. THANKLESS IN DEATH by J.D Robb

    Both are so perfect 🙂 and I just glanced up at Alethea’s and we both have my first one:)

  8. And one of my own, because why not. “The scent of blood was in her nose – blood not yet shed, blood still in the vein.” Ulrika the Vampire Book One – Boodborn

  9. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in search of a wife. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen.

  10. And equally wonderfully, “To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.”– _Silent in the Grave_, Deanna Raybourn.

  11. I’ll play! Even though I’m late — from LAKE EFFECT: “Right off the bat, Nicole knew her inheritance needed a hundred grand in repairs. Or a stick of dynamite and a blasting permit.”

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