Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What Comes First?

Every story begins with a first sentence -- that first impression that is the author's chance to immediately engage a reader.  An opening might jump right into the action or give a glimpse of where the story is headed; it might set up a mystery or hint at a theme; it could introduce a character or establish the setting; but whatever it does, a strong opening sentence captures a reader's attention and imagination.

Here are a half dozen of my favorite first sentences from this year's books:
  1. "I had arrived early for my own assassination."
  2. "If I'd known what there was to know about Early Auden, that strangest of boys, I might have been scared off, or at least kept my distance like all the others."
  3. "In the Urwald you grow up fast or not at all."
  4. "Back before I shot Mr. Bennett, most every day was 'bout the same."
  5. "Kouun is 'good luck' in Japanese, and one year my family had none of it."
  6. "This is how Kyle Keeley got grounded for a week."
What are your favorites?

And just in case you don't recognize the first sentences above, here are the books they begin:
1. The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen 
2. Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool
3. Jinx by Sage Blackwood
4. Prisoner 88 by Leah Pileggi
5. The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata
6. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein 


  1. I really like the first line, "Madeleine Tully turned fourteen yesterday, but today she did not turn anything." But, it is even better if you know the next two lines. "Oh wait. She turned a page."

  2. I just finished Navigating Early a couple of weeks ago and LOVED it!

  3. How about the first lines from a slightly older book? "I am Ivan. I am a gorilla. It's not as easy as it looks."

  4. Oh, Jennifer Nielsen hooks me quickly! What fun!!