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Writer's Block


The start of something wonderful

What is your favorite opening line of a book, and why?

Answers (832)

  • "Высоко-высоко, выше гор, ниже звезд, над рекой, над прудом, над дорогой летела Сеси. Невидимая, как юные весенние ветры, свежая, как дыхание клевера на су­меречных лугах… Она парила в горлинках, мягких, как белый горностай, отдыхала в деревьях и жила в цветах, улетая с лепестками от самого легкого дуновения. Она сидела в прохладной, лимонно-зеленой, как мята, лягушке рядом с блестящей лужей. Она бежала в косматом псе и громко лаяла, чтобы услышать, как между амбарами вдалеке мечется эхо. Она жила в нежной апрельской травке, в чистой, как слеза, влаге, которая испарялась из пахнущей мускусом почвы. «Весна…" Рэй Брэдбери. Апрельское колдовство

  • I know that I should, of course, be quoting 1984 and all those other great, memorable openings here. But that's not what makes an opening like great for me. Of course it helps if it pops and chucks you into the action, but what I most of all is the feeling of returning to the book. The opening line - for me - should be like a hot, literary bath. The reader should put down all their baggage, recognise from the start that they are in safe hands, and sink into the story - leaving the real world behind them.

    "Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of Number Four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." [Harry Potter and the Philiosopher's Stone]
    It's not even a special sentance, but as soon as I read it it's like I've entered another world and I'm suddenly 11 again, and reading the book for the first time, and the entire Potterverse is new to me again.

    Another example - though this is technically two sentances;

    Mma Ramotswe had a detective agency in Africa, at the foot of Kgale Hill. These were it's assets: a tiny white van, two desks, two chairs, a telephone, and a typewriter. [The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency]
    Almost immedietly I'm lost in that world - those two sentances have stripped away my world of emails and twitter and car tax and dropped me into a tiny detective agency in Botswana, where all you need to succeed are morals and a small white van.

  • начало книги ад данте
  • Была чудная ночь, такая ночь, которая разве только и может быть тогда, когда мы молоды, любезный читатель. Небо было такое звездное, такое светлое небо, что взглянув на него, невольно нужно было спросить себя: неужели же могут жить под таким небом разные сердитые и капризные люди? (с) Ф.М. Достоевский "Белые ночи"

  • Maman died today, which I've seen chosen in a few entries so far, but which bears special significance to me for a unique reason. The translation of The Stranger I read used "Mother," and when I first saw the "Maman" translation, I was faintly contemptuous; it looked wrong. It wasn't wrong, of course - "Maman" is manifestly the right selection for what it says about the character. Upon reflection, the incident was my introduction into the delicacies of word choice in translation. The line itself, though, is enough. It should be evocative, emotional - wet, as the Japanese say. Instead, it just hangs there, empty. .

  • "Мастер и Маргарита" Булгакова

  • Answering this one again, and I'm sure I'll get some crap for it.  No, this is not my favorite book, but I cannot deny that this line gripped me years ago when I first picked up the book before there were any talks of sequels, before Robert Pattinson was an icon, and before there were teams for werewolves or vampires.  Back when it was just this one book based on a dream that a woman had and wanted to express to the world.  Say what you want about the book, that's not what this is about, I just always loved these first few lines:

    "I'd never given much thought to how I would die-though I'd had reason enough in the last few months-but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this."

    And then I skip the second line of the book and move onto the third, fourth, and fifth:

    "Surely it was a good way to die, in the place of someone else, someone I loved.  Noble, even.  That ought to count for something."

    People can comment and say whatever they want, but those lines gripped me if nothing else, and sadly, I think that had any other book started out with these lines, the comments that people are surely thinking as they read this, would be much nicer.  For those that still don't know what book this is from, it's the opening of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.  
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