I recently reorganized my books.
As I took the titles off the shelves, dusted and reordered them, I was struck by how much I had loved reading them. It was like spending time with every friend I ever had.
Whenever I find myself struggling with a writing project, I turn to fiction for inspiration. By revisiting all the books I love to read, I found inspiration in their opening lines—enough to get me through any writing project.
Here are several of my favorites:
1. The music-room in the Governor’s House at Port Mahon, a tall, handsome, pillared octagon, was filled with the triumphant first movement of Locatelli’s C major quartet.
“Master and Commander” by Patrick O’Brian
2. Lyra and her daemon moved through the darkening hall, taking care to keep to one side, out of sight of the kitchen.
“The Golden Compass” by Philip Pullman
3. “So now get up.”
Felled, dazed, silent, he has fallen; knocked full length on the cobbles of the yard.
“Wolf Hall” by Hilary Mantel
4. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
“1984” by George Orwell
5. It was a pleasure to burn.
“Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury
6. As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.
“The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka
7. All children, except one, grow up.
“Peter Pan” by J.M Barrie
8. The schoolmaster was leaving the village, and everybody seemed sorry.
“Jude the Obscure” by Thomas Hardy
9. It’s good to get in touch with you at last. Could I have one of your
“ Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence” by Nick Bantock
10. No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be an heroine.
“Northanger Abbey” by Jane Austen
11. Marley was dead: to begin with.
“A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens
12. When shall we three meet again/In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
“Macbeth” by William Shakespeare
13. There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.
“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte
14. I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.
“I Capture the Castle” by Dodie Smith
15. You’ve been here before.
“Needful Things” by Stephen King
16. In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.
“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
17. Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.
“Middlemarch” by George Eliot
18. We slept in what had once been the gymnasium.
“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood
19. To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman.
“A Scandal in Bohemia” from “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
What are some of your favorite opening lines?
Laura Hale Brockway is an Austin-based writer and editor and a regular contributor to PR Daily. Read more of her work at impertinentremarks.