This is for GBE2 Prompt 77 Beginnings
You want to grab someone’s attention from the first line. This is true for an article, a story, an essay, a novel. You need a hook. This particular prompt is going to be about some of my favorite first lines.
The worst thing about knowing Gary Fairchild had been dead for a month was seeing him every day at work.— The Silicon Mage by Barbara Hambly
This line is creepily fantastic. It gives you back story and sets the mood. It draws you in and then throws you completely off kilter. The first time I read this book, I was three pages in before I realized it.
Chick with a harp. —Gossamer Axe by Gael Baudino
“Wait,” I can hear you say. “What makes this a great hook?”
Well, it’s in the juxtaposition of “chick” and “harp.” The view point character is seeing someone who is unusual and fantastic. (By fantastic, I mean in the sense of being strange, mysterious and magical, not in the sense of “great.”) The girl is the gun in the first act, and the protagonist of the story. We get the outsider perspective first, then we meet the girl, and we find she’s the one who is the outsider by a couple thousand years.
“Shape a chain,” Elmeene said, handing Jerlayne an iron bar three-fingers thick and as long as her forearm. “Twenty links, all the same, and nothing left over.”—Jerlayne by Lynn Abbey
That is supposed to be your reaction. “What,” and also “how.” Reading this line, you realize that this is a test, one that Jerlayne needs to pass. You become invested in finding out the “how” and the “what,” and you continue reading to see if she passes this test and you continue reading to see what she gets if she succeeds or fails.
Some two hundred miles to the north and east of Adrilankha there lies a mountain, shaped as if by the hand of a megalomaniac sculptor into the form of a crouching grey dzur. —Taltos by Steven Brust
This is a more subtle thing. This is the first line, but the punch line is in the next few lines. Still, we get a very good idea of the protagonist in this bit. This line and the ones following it are what got me into this book and persuaded me to read the rest of the series.
The hills rolled up to the moon on slopes of wind-bent grass into tangled brier shadows.— Godstalk, by P.C. Hodgell
First, let me say that I really, really don’t like purple prose. Descriptive, poetic sentences in the hands of someone who has very little idea of what they are doing are utterly obfuscating and annoying. Hodgell knows what she is doing. Her prose is dense and delicious, chocolate cake with raspberries. The first line pulled me right in and her quirky characters and wryly dark humor kept me reading.