The First Line

SONY DSCSince our theme this month is Firsts, I thought I’d write about first lines of books. To me, the first line of a story is like meeting you, the reader, for the very first time. More often than not you will have read the back matter, which may have been written by me, someone else, or a group of marketing professionals. You might have admired the cover, and that tempted you. Covers aren’t usually made by the author, but by a graphic artist. Whatever way it happens, the first line of the story is the first building block for your reading relationship with me, the author. It’s when things get real.

It’s essential that the first line makes you want to keep reading. It needs to spark your curiosity. With any luck, the first line will make you think, OMG! Who? What? Where? Why? I have to know! And you keep reading, turning those pages until the very end.

This holds true whether an author writes historical, inspirational, rom coms, or time travels. The first line should fit the world the author has created and capture the tone of their work.

I write contemporary romance with romantic suspense elements, and I admit to being surprised when I typed the first lines from my series together. They really do fit the tone of my books. Here they are:

Winning this might keep him alive. – Slide Job

Death lingered quietly in the dark, dressed in worn blue jeans. – Beyond the Winner’s Circle

Would he die today, or tomorrow? – Running Three Wide

I would be remiss at this point if I didn’t add the first lines from some of my favorite reads. Here they are in no particular order:

Most people don’t stare at the scars. – Burnt Offerings, Laurell K. Hamilton

Caught in the crosshairs of wind above the Bitterroots, the jump ship fought to find its stream. – Chasing Fire, Nora Roberts

They had betrayed her with a promise of the sea. – My Heart Stood Still, Lynn Kurland

Although in different genres, each first line is tempting. I can’t wait to dig in and find out the rest of the story.

What about you? Do you have a favorite first line?

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.
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12 Responses to The First Line

  1. Nina Croft says:

    I love your opening lines, Sutton – they’d definitely make me want to read on. The only opening line I can actually remember was from my favorite book as a child – The Silver Brumby and it was a total cliche…Once there was a dark, stormy night in Spring…

    • Sutton Fox says:

      Thanks, Nina. Since you write paranormal, I wonder if this helped that influence so long ago. Although it is cliche, just think about all the things that can happen on a dark, stormy night in Spring. It’s interesting that you still remember it. Fantastic. 🙂

  2. I LOVED your first lines!

    One of my favs is from HONEY MOON by SEP:
    All that spring Honey prayed to Walt Disney.

  3. First lines…so tough to write! I agonize over mine, move on and often come back and change it, because like you said – it’s your first chance at making the right impression.
    Here are a few of mine:
    Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents. ~ Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
    She must be stopped from coming here. ~ Amethyst Dreams (Phyllis A. Whitney)
    No, absolutely not, you cannot make me get on that plane. ~ The Pirate (Jayne Ann Krentz

  4. Bethanne says:

    I like your opening lines, Sutton. 🙂 In general though, I don’t remember first lines… not even really good ones. Stories, ideas, etc. I see more of the whole picture than first lines.

    Also, I suck at first lines. LOL 😀

  5. Those are great first lines. The book I’m reading now, Undeniably Yours, starts with: She was too softhearted to be an oil tycoon. 🙂 That definitely makes me want to figure out how this girl became an oil tycoon.

  6. Sutton Fox says:

    Exactly, Julie! It does the same for me. 🙂

  7. Clarissa Yip says:

    First lines have always been hard for me, but I love yours from your series! I’m intrigued!

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