Great opening lines. We all want one. But let’s admit it, some do it better than others.
I myself suffer from performance anxiety.
I write what I think is a fantastic line and then I begin to doubt myself. Am I just writing that for shock value or is it really a relevant opening line? Is it wanky? Are there too many words? Am I telling a joke that no one else gets?
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that it’s easy to come up with a list of great first lines of all time, but I’m interesed in what makes a great first line in a romance novel.
So here’s how I roll. I go into the bookshop. I don’t take much notice of covers as well as know, you don’t judge a book by it’s…well you know how that ends. I check to see how big the author’s name is. The bigger the name, the badder the book. By then, I’ve checked to see the clerks not watching me (no, I can’t explain why I do that) then I pick up the book. Do I look at the back? No Bob. Do I check the inside cover? Do books have inside covers any more? I don’t do it anyway. I open up and read Line 1. Then Line 2. Then Line 3.
If I haven’t got goosebumps or if I’m not standing in the bookshop with a silly smile on my face – then it’s not the book for me. Yes, I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a first line snob.
First line? Killer.
I thought I’d turn to my own little library of (mainly historical) romance novels and do a little countdown a-k-a Oprah. But your not all getting one. Sorry.
“She would not be sold like a prized mare at Tattersalls!” – Notorious Rake, Innocent Lady, Bronwyn Scott
I should hope not. But if she was, I hope she fetched a good price.
“Finish the words and you will be a widow before you are a wife,” Giles Fitzhenry, knighted warrier of William the Conqueror, promised in a harsh whisper. – His Enemy’s Daughter, Terri Brisbin
I wish I could be that pithy under pressure.
“Jane looked with distaste and a cringing fear at the chair Jacob Atkins would have her bend over so he could beat her with the thin cane which was casually slapping against his booted right leg.” – Destitute on his Doorstep, Helen Dickson
Bloody hell Helen.
“Damien had suicide in his sights.” – Wattle Creek, Fiona McCallum
Don’t do it Damien.
But, my current favourite…my
“Madeline Mercy Delacourte quite liked looking at near-naked men.” – Untameable Rogue, Kelly Hunter
Oh how I feel your pain Madeline.
And now, just for my own enjoyment, here’s one of mine;
“Brooke liked getting what she wanted and he just happened to be what she wanted.”
Hold your applause.