We spent almost two hours in the bar and had a grand time.Eventually most of the other patrons left, the bartender got naked, and even the waitress took off her top.
Most writers struggle, returning to the first line of a novel, memoir, story, poem, or personal essay again and again, continuing to rework the opening line even after the rest of the piece is done. Lie so enormously that your lie makes readers suspicious, like Shirley Jackson did when she set an excessively bright, happy, “everything’s perfect here” tone with the first line of her short story “The Lottery.” starts off like a typical opening sentence but ends with an unexpected twist, giving readers a creepy, “I’m missing something here” feeling.
To help inspire you (and give your muse a nudge), here are some examples of first lines from literature (poems, short stories, and novels) that offer great insight into opening line techniques. (And in a few lines, we also get an even creepier “I’m being watched” feeling too.) Put your characters at odds with one another.
Sometimes, your first line will be the last one you write!
QUESTION: What’s the first line of your work-in-progress?
Then you’ll love the many other ways Writer’s Relief can help! The first line of Haruki Murakami’s short story “The Second Bakery Attack” multitasks by not only giving us a bit of friction between characters, but it also has the added bonus of making us go, “Huh?