Some attention-grabbing, knock ‘em dead first lines

canstockphoto4734665There seems to be a lot of pressure to write a memorable, attention-grabbing, knock ’em dead first line.

As authors, we’re supposed to understand its critical importance. Without an attention-grabbing, knock ‘em dead first line, readers may not move to the second. So, as I write and rewrite an opening line for my new novel, I thought a look at the first lines of some of my favorite books would provide a little inspiration.

“From the moment the early morning fog had begun to lift, they sensed they were being watched.”
— ‘MEG,’ Steve Alten

“Tuesday was a fine California day, full of sunshine and promise, until Harry Lyon had to shoot someone at lunch.”
— ‘DRAGON TEARS,’ Dean Koontz

“Even before the events in the supermarket, Jim Ironheart should have known trouble was coming.”
— ‘COLD FIRE,’ Dean Koontz

“You’ve been here before.”
— ‘NEEDFUL THINGS,’ Stephen King

“The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years — if it ever did — began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain.”
— ‘IT,’ Stephen King

“He should never have taken that shortcut.”
— ‘TIMELINE,’ Michael Crichton

“It hovered in the ink-dark water, waiting.”
— ‘BEAST,’ Peter Benchley

“The great fish moved silently through the night water, propelled by short sweeps of its crescent tail.”
— ‘JAWS,’ Peter Benchley

“The Senior Partner studied the resume for the hundredth time and again found nothing he disliked about Mitchell Y. McDeere, at least not on paper.”
— ‘THE FIRM,’ John Grisham

“My decision to become a lawyer was irrevocably sealed when I realized my father hated the legal profession.”
— ‘THE RAINMAKER,’ John Grisham

“The decision to bomb the office of the radical Jew lawyer was reached with relative ease.”
— ‘THE CHAMBER,’ John Grisham

“Benton Wesley was taking off his running shoes in my kitchen when I ran into him, my heart tripping over fear and hate and remembered horror.”
— ‘POINT OF ORIGIN,’ Patricia Cornwell

“Brass stars with celebrities’ names were inlaid in the sidewalk but the stars of the night were toxin merchants, strong-arm specialists, and fifteen-year-olds running from family values turned vicious.”
— ‘SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST,’ Jonathan Kellerman

“The shark on the dock was no monster.”
— ‘THE WEB,’ Jonathan Kellerman

“The Cross house was twenty paces away and the proximity and sight of it made Gary Soneji’s skin prickle.”
— ‘CAT & MOUSE,’ James Patterson

“Brianne Parker didn’t look like a bank robber or a murderer — her pleasantly plumb baby face fooled everyone.”
— ‘ROSES ARE RED,’ James Patterson

“Afterwards, steadfastly through the questioning, Scott Covey tried to make everyone understand just how it had happened.”
— ‘REMEMBER ME,’ Mary Higgins Clark

“Fifteen-year-old Nell MacDermott turned and began the swim back to shore.”
— ‘BEFORE I SAY GOODBYE,’ Mary Higgins Clark

“If Alvirah had known on that July evening what was waiting for her at her fancy new apartment on Central Park South, she would never have gotten off the plane.”
— ‘THE LOTTERY WINNER,’ Mary Higgins Clark

“She undressed slowly, dreamily, and when she was naked, she selected a bright red negligee to wear so that the blood would not show.”
— ‘IF TOMORROW COMES,’ Sidney Sheldon

“The large ballroom was crowded with familiar ghosts come to help celebrate her birthday.”
— ‘MASTER OF THE GAME,’ Sidney Sheldon

“Some kids found her.”
— ‘MY DARK PLACES,’ James Elroy

“If there is anything unusual on Pequod Street, a disturbance in the night suggests impending loss or change, a disruption or a dislocation, Clary Hale’s fatherless children are sleeping too profoundly to hear it.”
— ‘GONE,’ Kit Craig

“Boy, it’s hard to believe now, but not long before the Girl’s Night Out Fiasco, I was complaining about being bored.”
— ‘REVENGE OF THE COOTIE GIRLS,’ Sparkle Hayter

“Chris Mankowski’s last day on the job, two in the afternoon, two hours to go, he got a call to dispose of a bomb.”
— ‘FREAKY DEAKY,’ Elmore Leonard

“When the phone rang, Parker was in the garage, killing a man.”
— ‘FIREBREAK,’ Richard Stark

“The old lady had changed her mind about dying but by then it was too late.”
— ‘CITY OF BONES,’ Michael Connelly

“Three days before her death, my mother told me—they weren’t her last words but they were pretty close—that my brother was still alive.”
— ‘GONE FOR GOOD,’ Harlan Coben

Want more info, check out these articles:

“Thriller First Lines”
http://williamdietrich.com/thriller-first-lines/

Your First Line: The Hook that gets your novel off the bookshelves and onto the checkout counter
http://murderby4.blogspot.com/2009/11/your-first-line-hook-that-gets-your.html 

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One thought on “Some attention-grabbing, knock ‘em dead first lines

  1. Pingback: Knock ‘em Dead: “How does this sound for an opening sentence?” | JC Gatlin - Author

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